Chil­dren’s Hub takes next step


THE MUCH an­tic­i­pated Bun­bunarik Chil­dren’s Hub is an­other step closer to open­ing, with the cer­tifi­cate of oc­cu­pancy be­ing re­cently granted. This is sep­a­rate to the process for re­ceiv­ing an op­er­at­ing li­cense, which is un­der­way.

San­dra Slat­ter, chair of the Heath­cote Com­mu­nity Chil­dren’s Ser­vices As­so­ci­a­tion (HCCSA) board, said she is proud of the huge team and com­mu­nity ef­fort, in­clud­ing up to 1000 hours of vol­un­teer work.

“The Bun­bunarik Chil­dren’s Hub is a won­der­ful ex­am­ple of what small com­mu­ni­ties can do when re­sourced,” San­dra con­firmed. “It has been a three-way part­ner­ship be­tween a not-for-profit, a for-profit busi­ness and state gov­ern­ment work­ing to­geth- er, with the com­mu­nity group tak­ing the lead.

“The model is repli­ca­ble and could be utilised by other ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties who do not have child­care and want to en­cour­age younger fam­i­lies to live and work there,’’ she said.

The fa­cil­ity, which cost $1.4 mil­lion to build, will pro­vide spa­ces for up to 45 chil­dren and cre­ate 35 new jobs. In ad­di­tion to child­care and early learn­ing, the Hub will de­liver cru­cial ser­vices to fam­i­lies in­clud­ing coun­selling and speech pathol­ogy. These ser­vices will be free.

“The Hub is an ab­so­lute game changer for our town,” San­dra said. “It means that more fam­i­lies will be able to stay in Heath­cote or even more here,’’ she said.

“We have worked closely with local employers in­clud­ing Man­dalay and Heath­cote Health. This means that there will be drop-off and late pick-up times that align with peak pe­ri­ods of work.’’

Jenny’s ELC has been ap­pointed as the child­care and early learn­ing cen­tre provider. The HCCSA board is work­ing closely with Jenny’s through the li­cens­ing process and an­tic­i­pates an early 2019 open­ing.

Dar­ren Reid, di­rec­tor of Jenny’s ELC, said that he is ex­cited and proud. “We’ve had to over­come some big ob­sta­cles to get to this point,’’ he said. “Work­ing with the HCCSA, the state gov­ern­ment, the com­mu­nity and local busi­nesses, has helped us suc­ceed. We are now work­ing on li­cens­ing with the sup­port of HCCSA and an­tic­i­pate pos­i­tive news soon.’’

The Hub will be a state of the art 660 square me­tre chil­dren’s care and de­vel­op­ment fa­cil­ity with over 500 square me­tres of play­ground and sen­sory gar­den space.

In the lead-up to its an­tic­i­pated li­cens­ing and open­ing, the Hub will open to the com­mu­nity on Satur­day, Fe­bru­ary 9.

“I can’t wait for the com­mu­nity to see this won­der­ful fa­cil­ity with their own eyes,” San­dra said. “We’ve had some fan­tas­tic vol­un­teer sup­port to this point, but to get over the line, we do need ex­tra hands on deck. I wel­come any­one who is in­ter­ested to reach out.’’

San­dra con­firmed that dis­cus­sions are un­der­way with the local Taun­gu­rung Clan to en­sure their cul­ture is in­te­grated into the Hub. Bun­bunarik is an In­dige­nous word mean­ing ‘‘chil­dren’’.

Graeme Tre­wartha, Eu­gene Mee­gan, San­dra Slat­ter, Dar­ren Reid, Bishop Matt Brain and Colleen Pichut.

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