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Childcare centres save, but council workers still out in the cold

A last-minute reprieve for council-run childcare centres across NSW was fantastic news that would save jobs and support communities, says Local Government NSW (LGNSW).

LGNSW President Linda Scott said the NSW Government’s six-month support package, which commits funding of up to $82 million, would be shared amongst 260 council-run childcare centres across the state.

“Our campaign to save council early childhood education has been won,” Cr Scott said.

“Without this rescue package we were looking at the closure of council-run childcare centres.

“The Premier’s announcement allows the parents who are our doctors, nurses, our teachers and our scientists to continue to go to work, delivering front line services.

This is a lifeline, not only for families and councils but for the people working at these centres who would otherwise be out of work.

“In NSW, local government is not only the largest provider of childcare and early education services, but in some regional areas the only provider.

“By blocking the local government workforce access to the JobKeeper allowance, the Prime Minister had actively disadvantaged council-run childcare centres.

“The childcare packaged he announced required all childcare centres to provide free care, but then locked councils out of the compensatory assistance package available to private sector childcare providers.

“LGNSW has been in intense talks with the NSW Government on this issue, and we are so grateful they have stepped up and come to the rescue.

 “We thank the Premier for sending such a strong message to our councils and our early childhood educators about the essential nature of the work they do.”

Cr Scott said the Commonwealth’s refusal to make the JobKeeper allowance available to council employees sent a very different message to the community.

The Morrison-McCormack Government yesterday voted down an amendment to the JobKeeper legislation that recognised the importance of local government and acknowledged that without support, up to 45,000 council employees across the nation could lose their jobs.

“Funding councils is the solution to the nation’s recovery from COVID-19,” Cr Scott said.

“But, without State Government stimulus, councils are facing an almost impossible task in the months ahead.

 “We know councils have been terribly hard hit even in this early stage of the COVID-associated economic crisis: Blacktown City Council, in Sydney’s west, is already losing $1.7 million per week.

“And that’s before the rate notices go out. Some regional councils will cease to be able to operate in the coming months.

“If funded by the NSW State Government, councils can employ people to build the infrastructure for the future, and deliver the community supports needed to ensure no one is left behind during the COVID-19 pandemic.”