Desperate need for childcare to assist western Kangaroo Island bushfire recovery

OPTIMISTIC: Stephanie Wurst and Kate Murray from Parenting KI with children Charlotte, Georgia and Jack Wurst, and Dustin Ness. They are all keen for more local child-care services in Parndana. Photo: Supplied
OPTIMISTIC: Stephanie Wurst and Kate Murray from Parenting KI with children Charlotte, Georgia and Jack Wurst, and Dustin Ness. They are all keen for more local child-care services in Parndana. Photo: Supplied

A dire need for suitable childcare facilities for the Western District on Kangaroo Island is hoped to be remedied as part of bushfire recovery.

A revived childcare service at Parndana is among the initiatives to aid the Island's economic recovery being assessed by state and federal governments for funding consideration.

Plans for a stand-alone childcare centre at Parndana are among some projects on the Island to be put forward by community leaders seeking support through the Regional Bushfire Recovery and Development Program announced in May.

A share in the $448.5m is hoped to end almost three years of lobbying for a childcare centre put forward by a Parenting KI working committee headed by Stephanie Wurst and Kate Murray.

"There has been a strong demand from the community for a childcare centre for many years to service the whole Western district of the Island," Stephanie said.

"KI Children's Services have been working with us and have been a great support throughout this whole process".

Previous work for a Parndana childcare service from KI Children's Services put the working committee in a good position to raise the issue further, she said.

Having a childcare service in Parndana would allow parents such as Michael and Sarah Stanton to continue fencing together while not relying on relatives.

Having a childcare service in Parndana would allow parents such as Michael and Sarah Stanton to continue fencing together while not relying on relatives.

A need for childcare was recently heightened when the bushfires hit.

"We still don't have a service and obviously the families in the Western District were desperate, even before that need went through the roof," she said.

Stephanie said they were supportive of the emergency childcare service, set up by the Department of Human Services.

"The department was able to set the service up immediately, as they were able to veto the regulations that are normally required for a childcare set up due to the nature of the emergency," she said.

However the childcare delivered in March was ceased due to the coronavirus.

"It was so well utilised, the department had 11 families on the wait list," Stephanie said.

Despite their extensive consultation, the committee remains optimistic their community will have access to childcare.

"Our focus long-term is the build and our short-term focus is we need day care now," she said.

The committee - who has met with state and federal government supporters such as deputy premier Vickie Chapman and KI Council mayor Michael Pengilly - works closely with Rob Manton, SA local recovery coordinator - KI - for Disaster Recovery and Resilience.

The committee also feels the proposed childcare centre aims to provide a sustainable model to support the region's economic future.

"But by not having a basic service like this we feel like we are doing dis-justice for the community and drawing people in to living here," Stephanie added.

Projects will be addressed under state and federal levels.

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