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Bourke Childcare Crisis

Inspecting the damage at the Bourke Childcare Centre - Member for Parkes Mark Coulton with BDCS General Manager Prue Ritchie, BDCS Chairperson Tanya Jackson, Bourke Mayor Barry Hollman and Bourke Shire Council General Manager Leonie Brown. Photo TWH

Childcare services have reached a crisis point in Bourke, with an unusable building and a shortage of staff putting pressure on families in need of the service.

Consultant General Manager for Bourke and District Children’s Services, Prue Ritchie, said the challenges facing the service were difficult, but staff were positive in finding a solution to the most immediate problems.

The crisis began in September when the ceiling of the Oxley Street Childcare building on the collapsed, following a long stretch of heavy rain.

“We had to vacate the building because it was not safe and there was mould which was not helped by the wet weather,” Prue said.

“That childcare centre was built for 39 children daily, and we are consistently full. We cater for about 75 children across the Bourke district, and we have 26 children on the waiting list.

“We can’t use the building and we’ve had to find alternative accommodation for those children.”

The ceiling collapse and the mould will mean the building will need extensive repairs, costing from $150,000 to $300,000.

While is being pursued, the more immediate concern is finding alternative accommodation to continue providing childcare services in Bourke.

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