Parents rally to keep childcare services

Left: Parents and childcare workers rally outside Blacktown Civic Centre last Wednesday.Picture: Phyllis Macgraw”WHO cares?” “We care!”
Nanjing Night Net

“What about?” “Childcare!”

The chants of angry parents and childcare workers fighting against plans to close or privatise Blacktown’s childcare services echoed from Blacktown’s Village Green last Wednesday evening.

Their cries must have resonated with at least some of the councillors in the civic centre five storeys above.

Mark Holmes, Jess Diaz and Walter Smith crossed the floor to vote with independent deputy mayor Russ Dickens and the Labor councillors to support a motion for keeping the services as a core council function.

But campaigners said the battle was far from over, with the remaining Liberal councillors successfully calling for a report on the viability of the 25 services run by Blacktown City Council, examining their usage, costs, funding from state and federal governments and the way they compare with private operators.

The United Services Union, which represents local government workers (including childcare staff), organised two rallies in opposition to the proposal.

General secretary Graeme Kelly said the matter was far from resolved and that mayor Len Robinson had said publicly for years that he wanted to see the childcare centres shut down or sold. “We know this issue isn’t likely to go away, which is why we will continue to stand with the staff at these centres, and the thousands of parents and community members who use them, to ensure that the people of Blacktown do not lose these essential community services,” Mr Kelly said.

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