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“A disaster”: lack of childhood educators in Lorne forcing parents to cancel work

June 29, 2022 BY

Staff shortages have led to temporary closures and caps on childcare numbers at the Lorne Community Centre. Photo: TIM LAMACRAFT

LORNE parents are being forced to cancel work due to childcare shortages in the town, as the state government announces a massive overhaul of the sector.

Under the $9 billion Best Start, Best Life program, the Andrews Government will make kinder free across the state, deliver a new year of universal Pre-Prep for four-year-olds and establish 50 government-operated childcare centres.

Introducing the measures last week, Early Childhood Minister Ingrid Stitt acknowledged that the reforms are taking place in time when the sector is already facing major issues in attracting and retaining staff.

“No one is pretending that it’s an easy job market…there’s skill shortages,” Ms Stitt said.

Ms Stitt acknowledged the existing shortfall of 3,000 educators for three-year-olds, and that the figure blew out to 5,000 when including the teachers needed to meet demand in coming years under the new reforms.

While welcoming the announcement, one Lorne mother who declined to be named said the town was already experiencing major problems attracting educators there, describing the situation as
“a disaster”.

The childcare centre at the Lorne Community House is struggling to attract staff.

There is only one day care centre in town at the Lorne Community House, and it has struggled to keep its doors open.

“We don’t have enough staff, so if anyone is unwell, sick, wants to take some leave, there’s no backup,” the mother said.

“We’ve lost three educators in the last eight months…it’s not beneficial for children.

“The staff that we have are incredible, but they need support.”

The mother estimated that at least once a month she had to cancel work after being told the centre had to cap numbers.

A Lorne father from another family, who also asked not to be named, said the issue has been ongoing for at least 18 months and was affecting his and his partner’s ability to work.

“Three months I would understand, but this long…that’s really hard for people who have moved to the coast, or want to move to the coast.

“Why would you move to a town that has no childcare? We can’t work, we can’t live here.

“There’s just no consistency for anyone in the town to work. We’ll get told the day before that there’s no sittings, often the night before or the morning of.”