Parents in major childcare challenge

BENDIGO TAFE chief executive Peter Coyne says a group of parents who want to take over the BRIT childcare centre have a “huge challenge on their hands”.

Mr Coyne met with parents on Friday and explained the financial decision to close the facility.

He said the TAFE would be forced to spend $200,000 on upgrades to keep the centre open beyond March next year and would still be running at a loss.

“We simply couldn't spend more money on an area that’s already losing so much money,” he said.

Mr Coyne said it would be difficult for parents to operate the centre and comply with all regulations.

“From a business perspective they’ve got an enormous challenge,” he said.

“It’s a highly-regulated sector. We know why it’s highly regulated – to comply with all the legislation.

"No-one’s going to allow you just to cobble together a business to care for children in an inappropriate environment.”

Mr Coyne said he wished the parents luck but he criticised their approach in trying to gain attention for their plan.

He said parents had “hijacked” the TAFE’s Christmas party on Thursday night to protest the planned closure.

“That's not helping anyone,” he said.

“Half an hour of the Christmas party was hijacked by a few members from the group. They did it when they knew they would capture the parents’ attention. They knew they had a captive audience.”

The parents working group formed last week after the closure was announced.

Parent Carla Mayman said she was disappointed by the outcome of Friday's meeting, but she said the group weren't deterred.

"We’ll look at the compliance issues and continue discussions," she said.

"We're hoping the government might come to the party and we could get some grants. We want to get more advice."

Mrs Mayman said she rejected the claim they had hijacked the Christmas party.

She said the next step for the group was to determine if their business plan was sustainable.

"It just depends on compliance issues. The sustainable model we're looking at is self-sufficient. We're hoping to explore every option available. 

"We're wasting no time."

More than 640 people have joined a Facebook group and added their names to a petition calling to keep the centre open.

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