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Tuesday, 12 May 2020
Page: 3082


Ms CHESTERS (Bendigo) (13:30): I feel quite lucky and privileged to be back this week and able to bring my new baby daughter with me. Not every mum nor every parent can take their child to work. It's important, at this stage of her life, that she's able to be close. I raise this because I know how critical and stressful it is for new mums and new parents to enter their children into early childhood education or child care when they're quite young. Like all, I was quite excited when the government announced free child care, only to be disappointed, because, with this government, the devil is always in the detail. What I've learned from educators and centres in my electorate is that they are close to going backwards. When they hit the 70 per cent point of children in their centres they will not earn enough from this government, in terms of guaranteed funding, and they will start to go backwards. This is incredibly frustrating for centres and educators, and heartbreaking for parents who have been turned away and can't get a place. Equally, it is frustrating that the City of Greater Bendigo childcare centres did not qualify for special funding. I urge the government to reverse this decision. These childcare centres are home to many children whose parents are essential workers. We cannot afford to have these centres closed.