Community stories: 31 May 2023
Augusta is a town in south-west WA, 40km from the nearest town of Margaret River, which is a larger service centre. Whilst traditionally a town with a reputation for having a high proportion of retirees, numerous young families have returned to Augusta where they grew up, or have taken a sea-change post-COVID.
When the only childcare centre closed in Augusta, families were faced with lengthy travel times to Margaret River, and this has had a flow-on impact on employment, limiting opportunities to access work, and for employers’ to fill staff vacancies.
A group of committed parents, local business owners and early childhood educators got together to set up an incorporated association to open a community-run, not-for-profit centre with 24 places to meet the urgent need for childcare. They successfully navigated the requirements and approvals of the Education Care Regulatory Unit and the Federal Government Childcare Subsidy program however, increased building costs compounded by development approval delays means the new centre is yet to open.
The best laid plans of mice and men…
Initially the project intended to purchase resources to outfit the new centre. Instead FRRR was able to work with the group to progress a variation to the original project, to help them adapt to their changing circumstances.
The group instead launched a vacation care service for children, kindy to 12-year-olds, filling a gap in the community’s childcare needs. They used a $10,000 Strengthening Rural Communities grant, funded by FRRR, to purchase educational resources that are of a higher quality and more durable than the donated and second-hand older toys and cheaper equipment that had previously been used.
These resources will last longer and extend the children’s imagination, and have added real value to the program and been much loved by the children. They will also be able to used by the new childcare centre when it eventually does open.
Kylie Lucas, Treasurer of the Augusta & Districts Childcare Centre, noted in their acquittal: “We are very grateful for the donors and team at FRRR for enabling our project to be delivered with better resources, and it has made a real difference to the kids, working families and community members in our little town. The committee appreciated FRRR’s flexible and supportive approach.”