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Lismore News

No early education care places in ‘childcare desert’

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Kevin Hogan with childcare participants Lismore

No early education care places in ‘childcare desert’

 

By Samantha Elley

Rachael Lane and Jaclyn Pilbeam are two young mums who are finding it difficult to navigate the lack of childcare spaces in the Lismore area.

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Because she was unable to find childcare for her two-year-old daughter, Sophie, Rachael does shiftwork at night, packing shelves, then takes over at home so her husband can go to work during the day.

Jaclyn was luckier in that she was able to find a place for her 13-month-old daughter, Evie,  but she had to take extreme action.

“We had our daughter Evie on a daycare (list) before she was even born,” she said.

“She is still on waiting lists, as Evie goes to daycare that is 20-30 minutes from our house.

“It’s not ideal for our family. I need to go to work. I’d love to stay at home with my children but it’s just not an option for me.”

Ms Pilbeam said the cost of living meant she had to work, but not only that, her time at work helped her as well.

“I am a better mum when I work,” she said.

“I am quite happy to send my child to daycare, although it’s not my first option. It works for me and it works for my family.

“We need those options available in our area for mums like me.”

Ms Pilbeam said that the waiting lists in Lismore for childcare is on average 200 young ones.

Isabel McLennan of The Learning Cottage in Lismore and Wollongbar confirmed the numbers.

“I’ve got 300 families on both waiting lists,” she said.

“That’s 600 children that we can’t supply places for.”

Another issue, especially since the 2022 flood, is the need for quality early childhood educators, according to Mitch Hutchinson of Kyogle Early Learning.

“To fill those spots with quality educators is also a big issue in this area,” he said.

“To attract and retain high quality early childhood teachers in the area where there’s zero rentals (and) high cost of living area is really hard for the award wages they get paid.”

The opposition is calling for the government to address the crisis for young families.

“This is a big problem across our country,” said Angie Bell, Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Education.

“We are looking at more flexibility and choice for regional families that currently do not have access to early learning.”

Minister Bell said the issue seemed more acute in Lismore, due to the flood crisis, but it was an issue across the country.

“There are 9 million Australians who live in a childcare desert and what that means is there are three children waiting for every place available.”

Minister Bell said the Labor government needed to step up and deliver more for regional families.

“They spent $4.7 billion on their Cheaper Childcare Bill and all they’ve delivered is zero places for regional Australians,” she said.

“Fees have gone up by 7% in less than six months and so families are paying more, which means they have to work longer hours.”

And while Minister Bell was unable to reveal the childcare policy of the Coalition, more would be revealed closer to the next election.

“What we want to see is flexibility and choice for families,” she said.

A new report from the Centre for Policy Development was released last week and it recommended bold reforms to ensure universal early education and care for all children.

Ten key reforms were suggested in the Growing Together: A future universal early childhood education and care system for Australia report.

These included  ensuring all children had access to a minimum of three days of early childhood education and care a week at low or no cost.

“Three days is perfect,” said Jaclyn.

“It feels like a happy medium. I feel like I can give more to my children.

“It’s good socialisation for the kids and you’ve still got four days with your children at zero dollar rate.”

 

For more local Lismore news, click here.

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Saffin Secures $30,000 Grant for Youth Crime Prevention

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Lismore MP Janelle Saffin with North-Tracks Works Chair Patrick Higgins, Secretary/board member Kevin Bell and Mr Bell’s working dog Maezzie. - Youth Crime Prevention

Saffin Secures $30,000 Grant for Youth Crime Prevention

 

Lismore MP Janelle Saffin has successfully secured a $30,000 grant for North-Tracks Works, a Lismore-based organisation dedicated to empowering vulnerable young people. This funding will enable the expansion of their life-changing programs to engage more youth in Goonellabah, Coraki, and Casino.

Ms. Saffin expressed her gratitude to NSW Minister for Police and Counter-terrorism Yasmin Catley for approving the grant following her advocacy on behalf of North-Tracks Works. She praised the organisation, which operates out of a shed in South Lismore, for its impactful work with young people aged 11 to 18, offering one-on-one support, mentoring, and practical learning opportunities.

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“I previously secured a $44,000 Local Small Commitments Allocation grant to help North-Tracks purchase equipment and materials for skill-building,” Ms. Saffin said. “This additional grant will allow North-Tracks to employ youth workers and expand their proven youth program, which is supported by Richmond Police District Commander Superintendent Scott Tanner.”

Patrick Higgins, Chair of North-Tracks Works and a local real estate agent, thanked Ms. Saffin for her efforts in securing the additional funding from Minister Catley. “We don’t fit in the box for normal funding. Our approach is about creating a sense of belonging and purpose through our skills program and training working dogs. It’s the work with the dogs that bridges the gap,” Mr. Higgins explained.

“At North-Tracks, we spend 10 percent looking back, 10 percent at where you are now, and 80 percent looking forward. We help them chase their dreams and goals,” he added. “Our team has three basic goals: keep them safe and alive, keep them out of jail, and help them move forward to live a full and productive life.”

This funding is set to sustain and expand North-Tracks Works’ impactful initiatives, providing more opportunities for at-risk youth to gain essential skills and find a sense of purpose and for Youth Crime Prevention.

 

For more local Lismore news, click here.

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Lismore City Council Mechanic Awarded Cory James Scholarship

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Cory James Memorial Scholarship

Lismore City Council Mechanic Awarded Cory James Scholarship

 

In celebration of NAIDOC Week, Lismore City Council awarded the annual Cory James Memorial Scholarship for Indigenous staff to fleet services mechanic Shannan Caldwell. The scholarship honours Cory James, a young Indigenous Council employee who passed away suddenly in 2019. Cory was dedicated to promoting his culture and heritage within the community.

Aunty Jenny presented the scholarship to Shannan, 33, at a ceremony held at Council’s Brunswick Street Depot. This scholarship will enable Shannan to pursue various training options to enhance his technical skills and broaden his career opportunities.

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Shannan expressed his gratitude for receiving the scholarship, noting the significant impact it will have on his career. “I am so humbled to have been awarded this scholarship,” he said. “This opportunity will allow me to select training courses to grow my technical knowledge as a mechanic and equip me with the skills I need to continue to advance my career. It opens pathways for my career as a mechanic, which is a job I love.”

Shannan also emphasised the importance of sharing his knowledge with his community in North Casino. “Passing knowledge to my community so they have basic understanding of keeping their car running smoothly is important to me. You never know, they might find the same passion as me and pursue a career as a mechanic, which is a very rewarding industry, especially at Lismore City Council.”

Lismore City Council’s General Manager, Jon Gibbons, highlighted the significance of the Cory James Memorial Scholarship. “This scholarship not only honours the legacy of Cory James, a young Indigenous man dedicated to promoting his culture and heritage within our community, but it also reflects our commitment to supporting the growth and development of our Indigenous staff,” he said. “By enabling Shannan to enrol in quality advanced training opportunities, he can further advance and thrive in his career. By investing in our employees, we are investing in the future of Lismore.”

Council will continue to use National Reconciliation Week and NAIDOC Week to recognise the achievements of Indigenous staff and support their development and career pathways.

 

For more local Lismore news, click here.

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Enhanced domestic, family and sexual violence support for women in Lismore

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Pictured, from left, are NORWACS project manager and non-fatal strangulation pathways site coordinator Emma Siegel, NSW Minister for Health and Regional Health Ryan Park, Lismore MP Janelle Saffin, NORWACS CEO Kelly Banister and Deputy Secretary Regional Health, Regional Health Division, NSW Health Luke Sloane.

Enhanced domestic, family and sexual violence support for women in Lismore

 

Women in Lismore and surrounding areas will benefit from improved access to domestic violence and sexual assault support services, with a $130,000 funding boost for Northern Rivers Women and Children’s Services Incorporated (NORWACS).

NORWACS is a community-based charity which provides trauma informed care and services to support women’s health and wellbeing.

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The investment will help to better meet the needs of local women following experiences of sexual, family or domestic violence. It will complement the significant work led by NSW Health Northern NSW Sexual Assault Services in supporting victim-survivors of violence in the region.

The NSW Government is committed to strengthening relationships between primary care, community-based care and the public health system to develop robust local referral pathways and responses for women.

Quotes attributable to Regional Health Minister Ryan Park:

“The NSW Government is pleased to support NORWACS, which has provided confidential, compassionate health and wellbeing assistance for women in the Lismore region for more than 25 years.”

“As Minister for Health, it is one of my priorities to ensure we’re improving access to healthcare services for women, especially vulnerable members of the community who may be impacted by domestic violence.”

Pictured, from left, are NORWACS project manager and non-fatal strangulation pathways site coordinator Emma Siegel, NSW Minister for Health and Regional Health Ryan Park, Lismore MP Janelle Saffin, NORWACS CEO Kelly Banister and Deputy Secretary Regional Health, Regional Health Division, NSW Health Luke Sloane.

Pictured, from left, are NORWACS project manager and non-fatal strangulation pathways site coordinator Emma Siegel, NSW Minister for Health and Regional Health Ryan Park, Lismore MP Janelle Saffin, NORWACS CEO Kelly Banister and Deputy Secretary Regional Health, Regional Health Division, NSW Health Luke Sloane.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Women and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Jodie Harrison:

“This funding boost will help NORWACS continue the important work they do in the Northern Rivers, providing targeted, trauma-informed support for women and children, especially those who have experienced domestic or sexual violence.

“In addition, their work with other health professionals and services, including the four NSW Health Sexual Assault Services in the area, improves awareness and promotes understanding of the impacts of sexual, family and domestic violence.”

Quotes attributable to Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin:

“I welcome this extra funding for NORWACS that recognises its great work supporting the health and safety of local women and children.

“In particular this is timely support for NORWACS project addressing the dangers of non-fatal strangulation in sexual assault and intimate partner violence.

“NORWACS is working to educate the community about the serious risk of brain injury from non-fatal strangulation and is identifying gaps in diagnosis and treatment and delivering training for GPs and health workers to get them up to speed on this issue.

“The extra funding will also allow NORWACS to increase its hours of vital DV outreach work in our region.”

 

For more local Lismore news, click here.

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