Page 3253 - Week 10 - Thursday, 25 August 2005
to use that centre for their services. In fact, a number of non-government providers in the Woden area have sought that space as well.
The advice from the department, which was my understanding, is that there is a number of teachers working from that area who use the Lyons infants school as a location for their work outside that centre, including the literacy and numeracy support teams and a group of itinerant teachers. Whilst the school is used by teachers providing education services to students in our government system, I think that those services should take priority in terms of the space required. Really, I am not going to boot out teachers providing education to students in our school for a childcare centre that is looking for another place from which to operate.
It was as simple as that. In fact, I said to Mr Gillett that, should that space become available, he would have to apply, as all organisations apply, for use of government space, government facilities, and that he would be in a long line, because my understanding is that at least four or five other organisations have sought that space from us previously.
MRS DUNNE: I have a supplementary question. Minister, what steps are you, as the minister for family services, going to take to ensure that there are still 108 childcare places available to the Woden community when the lease on the Teddy Bears centre runs out in February?
MS GALLAGHER: My obligations under the Children and Young Persons Act in relation to the licensing and accreditation of childcare services are quite clear. My responsibilities concern licensing, accrediting and making sure that the programs there meet standards. My responsibilities are not to create childcare places. Having said that, I think we have to put the matter in perspective. My understanding is that the Teddy Bears Child Care Centre has a six-month lease and that discussions will occur with government during that time. The government is not about not providing assistance where it can to resolve this issue.
The involvement Mr Gillett sought from me previously had to do with giving him the Lyons infants school for his use and he has not sought any further assistance. Really, it is a matter for Minister Hargreaves, with his responsibilities of managing government assets. The government does not create childcare places. We do not provide childcare benefits for families; that is a matter for the commonwealth. We will be sensitive to the needs of the families involved in the Teddy Bears Child Care Centre, but we need to understand that it is not the government’s responsibility to find a location for this business to operate.
If we took on that responsibility, we would have to apply that to every other organisation that requested the government to provide them with a location to offer their services. We do not do that for anyone else. Having said that, of course we will be in negotiation and discussion with the Teddy Bears Child Care Centre; but, as far as the Lyons infant school goes, the building is occupied by department of education teachers. To kick them out and to give this service priority over a number of other community organisations that have sought that space would be unfair and wrong.