The Atitjere Community, 220 KMs North East of Alice Springs on the Plenty Highway has celebrated to mark the opening of their new childcare centre.
The Commonwealth Government funded purpose-built facility came at a cost of more than $1 million to replace ageing, dilapidated and unsafe transportable.
Over 75 pre-school and school aged children, under the supervision of elders and childcare staff were the centrepiece of the celebrations with traditional dancing, singing and activities.
Central Desert Regional Council CEO Cathryn Hutton said the new building was a boom for the community. "It is a purpose built childcare centre and has given the community a sense of progress. It is a fantastic space for little kids to play and to learn and it will be fantastic for the future of Atitjere. It really is great that the Commonwealth has recognised the need for quality facilities in remote communities. " Ms Hutton said.
The Childcare Service plays an important role in supporting the development of positive parenting, exposes babies and toddlers to important stimuli to learn and develop and conditions pre schoolers to a school like environment.
Despite the Commonwealth's spend to build the bran new Centre, the Council has not received any increase in the operational funding. Ms Hutton said that the Council is still negotiating with the Commonwealth Department of Social Services for a small funding increase to adequately staff this centre plus another two in the region. . "This is a much larger centre with more supervision space. It requires more staff to operate" Ms Hutton said.
The Centre needs only another $65,000 per annum to address the staffing issues.
"We know that consistent, well supported staffing will attract more children. It's what we want, more kids at the centre, but they also need to be cared for safely. The relatively tiny additional cost of ensuring there's the right number of staff will be far outweighed by the long term benefits to the kids themselves, their families, the community and the tax payer" Ms Hutton said.