Member for Ripon Louise Staley MP today called on the Andrews Labor Government Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos to reverse proposed changes to supported playgroups that will result in the Dunolly supported playgroup closing.
“Minister Mikakos must intervene and change this flawed policy that will unfairly hurt rural supported playgroups” Ms Staley said.
Under the new guidelines, supported playgroups can only be offered to healthcare card holders and other parents defined as disadvantaged. In the case of Dunolly, there are only enough families for one playgroup and insufficient healthcare card holders to sustain a separate group.
“The imposition of this city-centric rule will result in the only supported playgroup in Dunolly closing” Ms Staley said.
“The Dunolly Supported Playgroup caters to all parents, regardless of circumstance, and this inclusive policy is valued by all families” Ms Staley said.
The Dunolly Supported Playgroup Reference Group has written to the Government but has not received a response. Applications for playgroups under the new guidelines close in December, a decision is required now.
Ms Staley visited the popular Dunolly supported playgroup this morning to support the group’s campaign to save their playgroup.
“This is wonderful supported playgroup; the children have excellent facilities, including a number of protected outdoor areas and access to the community garden” Ms Staley said. “Many of these facilities have been fundraised for by the playgroup and the kindergarten over many years and it would be a great loss to the whole town to lose this group” she noted.
Shadow Minister for Families and Children Georgie Crozier said it is important all children have access to playgroups. Ms Crozier said “this government is failing to consider the needs of country communities and country families. Supported playgroups should be permitted where they are the only playgroup option currently operating in rural communities.”