Drought funding well spent

Article image - Drought funding well spent Lameroo COGS staff member, Belinda Perks plays with Isobel Cattle at Southern Mallee’s new child care centre.

Up to 165 childcare places are now available in the Southern Mallee district of South Australia, as two new full-time centres open their doors thanks to a $1.5 million drought project.

The two purpose-built centres established in Pinnaroo and Lameroo will service dozens of families thanks to approximately $1 million from the Australian Government’s Drought Communities Fund Program in partnership with the Southern Mallee District Council, which contributed approximately $500,000.

Prior to the two centres opening, Southern Mallee families had access to only 19 local childcare places over two days.

Many parents, struggling financially from the drought for consecutive years, were unable to pursue off-farm work opportunities due to the lack of local childcare and out of school hours care services.

The new centres mean a major boost for local businesses and industry, as a new workforce of local people will become available to fill the extensive labour vacancies which exist across the region.

Southern Mallee Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Jason Taylor, said he could already see the opening of the two centres starting to create positive community outcomes by enhancing family wellbeing, mental health, early years learning, local industry support, community connectedness and economic growth.

“The immediate and long-term outcomes for our community from these centres will be immeasurable.

“As many other rural councils know, a major part of creating and sustaining communities where families want to live and raise their children is in providing the best possible services, facilities and environment in which they can thrive.”

Despite the externally imposed timeframe, ongoing access to appropriately skilled staff and the tyranny of distance, the project was delivered on time and on budget.

Forced to take over as project manager, CEO Taylor highlighted the importance of good communication between internal and external stakeholders – a learning he and Council will take into their next round of major projects.

“Council will also use the project evaluation to assist with future projects in areas including contractor management, timelines, budget and reporting.”