Children: Take a Break program

The end of the year is fast approaching, and occasional care centres across Victoria are having to make arrangements regarding the Take a Break funding they will lose from 1 January next year. In the south-east the Baillieu government’s heartless decision to axe Take a Break funding has meant that centres are having to let go of staff, raise fees, cut child-care sessions and even close down child-care centres. The Premier has ignored the appeals of our community centres and neighbourhood houses and is pushing ahead with this cut.

The wonderful people at Berwick neighbourhood centre in the member for Gembrook’s electorate have had to make a number of tough decisions as a result of the loss of $25 000 in funding. They have had to let go a long-term staff member and reduce the hours of another staff member. They say that further cuts to hours and staff may need to be considered. They have also been forced to increase their child-care fees by 20 per cent and room hire fees by 25 per cent. As a result of all this, enrolments for next year are not looking promising, and they have already lost an entire group for 2012. What will happen to Berwick families when this happens?

This is what the Baillieu government has done to the Berwick neighbourhood centre, and what is the member for Gembrook doing about all this? Absolutely nothing. The people at Berwick neighbourhood centre are aware of his inaction. I note that the member is not in the house. In a letter to the Berwick News titled ‘Where are you, Brad?’, the coordinator of the centre said, ‘I doubt whether Brad Battin even knows where the Berwick neighbourhood centre is’.

The Baillieu government is a heartless government that just does not care about communities. While the cut to Take a Break funding has already done a lot of damage, it is not too late for the Premier to reverse his decision and continue funding our occasional care centre beyond the end of the year. Berwick families deserve — —

The SPEAKER — Order! The member’s time has expired.