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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 12 Hansard (18 November) . . Page.. 4194 ..

Weston Creek child-care centre

MR HARGREAVES: My question, through you, Mr Speaker, is to the Minister for Education, Youth and Family Services. Can the minister advise members of the actions taken by the Stanhope government in response to the recent fire that destroyed the Weston Creek child-care centre?

MS GALLAGHER: I thank Mr Hargreaves for the question. As members would know, the Weston Creek Childrens Centre was severely damaged by fire on 3 November. The centre was licensed for 70 places, and approximately 160 families use the service every week. The centre is owned by the Department of Education, Youth and Family Services and is leased to the Weston Creek Community Association to manage the centre.

Staff from the department went to the site immediately on advice of the fire, about 6 am from my understanding, to be there to support the families and the staff. Information was given on the availability of emergency child care through the department, and urgent action to relocate the service was provided to families.

For those who couldn't find care for their children, temporary care was arranged for 15 families at eight different services throughout the ACT over the following week. I certainly thank the child-care centres that extended their places for those children.

Following the fire, I think about three days later, we held a morning tea to speak with families and staff and to announce the service would be reopened on Wednesday, 12 November, at Rivett Primary School. There was a great turnout at this meeting, with about 80 families attending.

Over the next eight days the department and Totalcare worked to prepare the Rivett Primary School rooms for relocation of the centre. Three existing tenants were relocated from Rivett Primary School to provide the rooms required for the centre. I certainly thank those tenants as well for being so flexible.

Considerable renovation was completed at the site to meet the centre's licence conditions, including installation of a playground, fencing and plumbing work. Much of this work was completed out of hours and over the weekend. On 12 November the Weston Creek Childrens Centre reopened its doors at Rivett Primary School, eight working days after a fire had destroyed its site at Weston.

Relocation of the existing tenants is still under way. Alternative locations are being found for three existing tenants. Two have moved to Weston primary, and one will share space with Noah's Ark at the Rivett site. The fourth tenant, Woden Community Service, has agreed to move to a temporary location at the Rivett Primary School for the duration of 2003. The Weston Creek Community Association has agreed to the relocation of the playground equipment from the centre to Rivett Primary School in the interim.

I certainly think it is very impressive that it took eight days for the department and for the community to respond to a fire. Seventy per cent of the children or families using the Weston Creek Childrens Centre had been affected by the fires in January of this year. It

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