Padstow Community Child Care Centre

About this Item
SubjectsChild Care; Community Centres
SpeakersAshton Mr Alan
BusinessPrivate Members Statements

Page: 21883

    Mr ALAN ASHTON (East Hills) [4.55 p.m.]: The existing Padstow Community Child Care Centre [PCCCC] will close next month and a new one will open. Parents, children and staff of the PCCCC finally have cause for celebration as a result of a persistent effort for the construction of this new centre that will come to fruition. I inspected the new building that was delivered by a couple of semitrailers to Playford Park, Padstow, and it is in fantastic condition. Landscaping and a final fit-out needs to be done. The need for the new centre arose when in February 2003 the Padstow Baptist Church, in association with the PCCCC, decided it would close the centre and open a drug and alcohol counselling service.

    No-one objected to the opening of a drug and alcohol service but parents and staff at the PCCCC had not been given any notice of its closure. I discovered that the centre was supposed to have a 21-year lease running until 2007. The parent community, staff and others, including my secretary, Ms Joanne Miller, whose two children attended the centre at the time, approached me and asked what could be done about it. I did what most good members of Parliament do: I made representations to the then Minister for Community Services, who is now the Minister for Education and Training.

    Ms Carmel Tebbutt: I remember that.

    Mr ALAN ASHTON: The Hon. Carmel Tebbutt was a member of the Legislative Council at the time and we exchanged correspondence. I thank the Minister, because she provided $800,000 to re-establish the Padstow Community Child Care Centre on land donated by Bankstown council. Work began on drawing up the plans, and everyone was quite happy about that and great progress was made. The project was held up—as often these things are—because the land the council had identified was on parkland and on what had been a dedicated road. It took some time to fix that problem. Anyone who has served on a local council knows these things can take time. Then the appropriate development application had to be prepared, plans had to be drawn that met the needs of the children and the staff, and the community had to be given an opportunity to have a say about the rezoning.

    The local media were very good in their support for the project. I thank the Bankstown Torch and the Bankstown Express for getting behind the project. I thank also the Bankstown councillors. We were able to get the funding from then Minister Carmel Tebbutt. The project was assisted also by Councillor Allan Winterbottom, who was deputy mayor at the time, and Helen Westwood, who was mayor. Both recognised—as we do today and as was mentioned in the Parliament—that there are just not enough child care places. Without being too political in a private member's statement, I would have to say it would be a great help if we received a lot more money from Canberra to meet the need for child care, because for many families it is not now an option to have one person with a full-time job and the other staying at home. These days it is necessary for both to work, so who will mind the children?

    What also held up the project at the time was that the identified land was over one of Sydney's main sewerage pipes. That was not very helpful either. The Padstow Community Child Care Centre should open fairly soon. As we say, time is money, and this meant that the project encountered a shortfall of $800,000. I must admit at that stage I started to think, "I just don't know what's going to happen, and whether we will get the project up and running." I thank the present Minister, Reba Meagher, because her department came to the party and delivered the extra money needed to bring the Padstow Community Child Care Centre to fruition.

    I place on record our appreciation of the Kindergarten Union, which will operate the new child care centre. I thank parents Amanda and Andrew Rosario, Joanne Mellars, Leah Donovan, Phil and Lyn Alsopp-Guest, Merrin Tischler, Cahli Wall, Matt Patton and others, and the mayor and the councillors of Bankstown council. This is what you can do when you get everybody involved—your State member, your community, your local council—and fortunately when you can go and see a Minister like the Ministers I have mentioned, Carmel Tebbutt and Reba Meagher, and get a great outcome.