COALITION RIPPING AWAY SUPPORT FOR NEIGHBOURHOOD HOUSES

More than 50 neighbourhood houses stand lose out on vital funding – including Bandiana, Baranduda, Kilmore, Seymour and Wallan Neighbourhood houses, after the Turnbull Liberal National Government quietly gutted a national childcare program.

Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham has confirmed he will cut the National Occasional Care Program, leaving Victorian kids, parents and neighbourhood houses out to dry in just four months’ time.

The program – due to expire in July – funds flexible childcare for 143 providers in Victoria, 51 of which are neighbourhood houses.

Labor Upper House Member for Northern Victoria, Jaclyn Symes, said Malcolm Turnbull’s cut will rip more than $800,000 from them each year, including nearly $80,000 from Bandiana, Baranduda, Kilmore, Seymour and Wallan Neighbourhood Houses.

Bandiana Neighbourhood House is the only occasional child care facility in the area and these Liberal National party cuts will have a detrimental impact on local families.

One third of the neighbourhood houses affected are in regional areas, where they are often the only childcare provider in the community.

The Andrews Labor Government is calling on the Liberals and Nationals to continue the program to give local families some peace of mind, or immediately provide adequate, comparable alternative childcare subsidies.

The Turnbull Liberal National Government still can’t say if neighbourhood houses are covered for funding under its new Commonwealth Child Care Package, which – if applicable – is likely to place a huge administrative burden on staff by forcing the adoption of a new payment system and reporting requirements.

“Losing this funding will be a huge loss to neighbourhood houses across the state, including those in my electorate in Wodonga and Mitchell Shire,” Ms Symes said.

“Neighbourhood houses provide services and opportunities for people from all walks of life – their work is so important, particularly in country towns.

“Neighbourhood houses are a wonderful part of our communities – and that’s why we continue to back them.

“While we’re investing, the Federal Liberals and Nationals have slashed the occasional childcare program and put funding at risk – all while the Victorian Coalition simply stands by and watches.

“Our local children, and those who care for them deserve better. Once again, the Liberals and Nationals are dudding Victorians and ripping away vital funding.”

Meanwhile, the Andrews Labor Government continues to be a proud supporter of neighbourhood houses, and funds 375 houses in Victoria along with 16 neighbourhood house networks.

In 2017-18, we provided more than $30 million in recurrent funding to support neighbourhood houses, house networks and the peak body, Neighbourhood Houses Victoria.

Last year, the Labor Government increased its support to the sector by providing a further $210,000 to Neighbourhood Houses Victoria to deliver more information and support to boost the management and governance of houses where needed.

Each week, over 188,000 people visit a neighbourhood house in Victoria and more than 5,000 volunteer at one.