Katy Gawers is worried young families like hers could be pushed out of Emerald due to the limited number of childcare spaces.
Katy Gawers is worried young families like hers could be pushed out of Emerald due to the limited number of childcare spaces. Lindsey Jackson

Family town needs childcare

THERE seems to be an abundance of families with young children in Emerald, but unfortunately the same can not be said for kindergarten and childcare places.

Emerald mother Katy Gawers said she was concerned the limited number of childcare vacancies could push young families out of “this beautiful country town”.

Katy said three childcare centres told her if her child was over 15 months of age there was basically no availability at any of the centres in Emerald.

“Unless you enrol your child in the early nursery stages, you pretty much have no chance of getting them in,” she said.

She has been placed on a 12-month waiting list for her five-month-old son Jaxon, but said she was confident a spot would eventually open at the ABC Centre.

“It is definitely something the council needs to look at,” Katy said. “There needs to be more things for kids in general.”

Planning to be a stay-at-home mum with her son Jaxon for at least 12-months, Katy said she was only going back to work so her and partner Shaun could support their family on a double wage.

“I’m not having a whinge that I have to go back to work,” Katy said.

“I’m sure there are many women in the same boat, but the fact that you have to fight for a spot for childcare makes it that much more pressure.”

Her main concern was that if nothing was done to increase facilities, families would be pushed out and Emerald could turn into a FIFO town.

“I know of three families that have had to leave town because there just aren’t any daycare spots,” Katy said.

She said she loved the small country town because it hadn’t been completely absorbed by mining and that she would be disappointed if Emerald were to follow the FIFO path.

“It’s such a beautiful place here,” she said.

“We hope to stay long-term.”

Mayor Peter Maguire said he was aware of the shortages of kindergarten and childcare places in Emerald and the Central Highlands in general.

“There are not a lot available,” Cr Maguire said.

“And it is a concern.”

He agreed young families were being pushed out of the region because parents were finding it difficult to find spaces when they had to go back to work.

“It is a problem, but the council is currently in talks to see where more land can be bought to build another facility,” he said.

However Cr Maguire said there were plenty of facilities to occupy young families in the region for recreational purposes.

“There’s plenty of sporting facilities, parks and there’s the botanic gardens,” he said.

“When we were young we made our own fun and we had a ball.”

Cr Maguire said the FIFO issue was a problem for all communities, regardless of childcare facilities or places.

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