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Opening the Little Swaggies Child Care Centre, Sunday 16 May, Winton, Queensland\n

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Senator Jocelyn Newman

Minister for Family & Community Services

Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Status of Women






Thank you Mayor Collins
(Councillor Stanley Collins, Mayor of Winton) for your kind introduction. I'm delighted to be here this afternoon to officially open the Little Swaggies Child Care Centre. 


Before I begin, I want to recognise publicly the role of Winton Council and Noela Schloss from the North Queensland Remote Family Care Service in helping to make this long day care Centre happen -

•  the Council for sponsoring the Centre, and

• Frontier Services, the sponsor of the North Queensland Remote Family Care Service, for agreeing to transfer 29 long day care places to this area.


So a big thank you goes to the Council, Frontier Services and Noela for their commitment and their efforts. 


I know people in Winton lobbied hard to have this Centre converted from a limited hours care service to a long d
ay care service. Before, parents could only bring their children here for part of the day. But Little Swaggies now gives people living in the Winton district access to a very high quality child care service for the whole day, on any weekday.  


The Commonwealth Government's contribution to setting up this Centre was just over $156,000 and we also give nearly $30,000 each year to keep the Centre up and running. And I think we should also acknowledge that the Queensland Government made a very substantial contribution as well. 


I'm very pleased, that now Little Swaggies has long day care status, parents who use the service can apply for Commonwealth Childcare Assistance payments. As many of you would know, this involves government help for low and middle-income families to offset the costs of formal child care. We estimate that this could mean a total of $145,000 a year for the 29 places. 


Supporting this Centre is part of the Government's commitment to better child care services across the country. There will be significant expenditure growth over the next four years of around $5.3 billion to support child care. 


By 2003, the expenditure on child care is expected to reach $1.5 billion annually. That's some 12 per cent higher than in Labor's last year in office. In all, we have created more than 30,000 new long day care places and there has been a net increase of almost 300 new child care centres.  


As a grandmother and a mother, and living in a regional area of Tasmania, I do understand how people in the bush - especially where both parents are working - need help to balance their work and their family responsibilities. And families want flexibility in their working and child care arrangements. 


As the Commonwealth Minister for Family and Community Services I want to assure that the Government, in its second term of office, is determined to provide even better child care services for people living outside the main capitals - especially in areas like Winton. 


And because we think strong families are a vital part of stable and healthy communities, you have my assurance that we will keep working on these improvements. 


But childcare is not just about dollars and numbers. In many rural communities, child care centres can become an important hub of community activity.  


I'm told a visit to Little Swaggies can be a real social occasion for parents and their small children, when they make the trip into town to do their banking and shopping. Importantly, the Centre also gives the children a chance to interact with others kids and to share the joys of craft, music and story-time in a safe and happy environment. We all know these positive spin-offs are beyond any government funding and regulation. 



Although you started operating as a long day care centre in March this year, we are here today to officially celebrate a milestone in the history of the Centre and the community. 


I believe the main reason for events like these is to recognise all the people involved and to put our appreciation on the record. And I think the children will remember this day as an important occasion in their lives, even after they grow up and become parents themselves. 


So my congratulations go to all those people who were instrumental in getting this Centre off the ground. I know you have all worked very hard to make sure these children have the best possible child care available. 


Thank you again for inviting me here today. It now gives me great pleasure to unveil this plaque and declare the Little Swaggies Child Care Centre officially open. 


Thank you. 




jy  1999-08-20  13:18