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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 01 Hansard (Wednesday, 10 February 2010) . . Page.. 217 ..

children four years old, the Department of Education and Training advised the Gumnut management committee in 2009 that the preschool will no longer have room available beyond the end of 2010. I understand that this decision was not taken lightly. It was taken balancing the needs of the childcare centre with the needs of the local community and preschool education of children.

The children’s policy and regulation unit within my department has had contact with the Gumnut centre director and the management committee a number of times during 2009 and is assisting Gumnut to investigate alternative sites for the Gumnut Place Child Care Centre within the Belconnen region. An ongoing series of meetings are planned with the director and the committee members. I have made it quite clear to the Gumnut management that the department has worked and will continue to work with them to find alternative sites.

The preschool children at the preschool need to use their room. I understand and acknowledge the impact the decision has had on the families whose children are currently provided with care at Gumnut and I am sorry that they are having a stressful time while an alternative location is explored. I think I am on record as saying that I sympathise with the angst. The nonsense coming out of Mrs Dunne does not help the angst.

Mrs Dunne: Yes, put it on the record; I said it.

Mr Seselja: So sincere, isn’t she? “I think I am on record. I will have to check if I sympathise.”

MS BURCH: My department is working hard to assist the centre find a new location. As with other situations, we assist childcare providers to find a way through and resolve issues in the best interests of the children and the families concerned. I also note that Mrs Dunne has a briefing on this tomorrow; maybe you do not need it. I will be saying the same things to you again, Mrs Dunne, but perhaps the penny will eventually drop.

I also want to refer to a media release that Mrs Dunne put out. It is headed “Dunne: Government must provide assurance for Gumnuts Child Care Centre”. I just want to point out a number of things. She says that, instead of wrenching children away, Ms Burch should be helping them with options. I go back to the letter I wrote. I say that I have asked the staff in the Department of Disability, Housing and Community Services access management branch of the children’s policy and regulation unit to continue to explore options for acquiring suitable accommodation for their centre. She is a little bit wrong there. She also goes on to say that all I could say was:

I wish you every success in finding alternative accommodation for Gumnuts.

I think there is more than just one line on that. But I also note something else in her press release. She dates the letter to which she referred as 25 October 2009. I was not even a minister on 25 October 2009; so wrong again.

Mrs Dunne: Okay, a typo.

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