By Ash’lee Charlton
THE Korumburra community is celebrating after the final $1.6 million needed to build the new children’s centre was announced in last week’s Federal Budget.
For more than seven years, the hardworking committee has been lobbying and fundraising for the much needed centre, which will now become a reality by 2017.
The $5.345 million newly named Karmai Community Children’s Centre (KCCC) will provide 120 new places for childcare, create 27 new jobs for locals in educator and ancillary roles plus bring a range of essential services together in the one place.
The $1.6 million from the National Stronger Regions Fund was the final piece of funding needed after the State Government committed $1.6 million last year, the KCCC committee raised $100,000 and the South Gippsland Shire Council funded the balance.
Speaking last Wednesday, just hours after the announcement, committee vice president Rebecca Marriott said she was thrilled with the news.
Ms Marriott has been instrumental in lobbying for the project since the idea was first tabled seven and a-half years ago.
Last month she joined South Gippsland Shire Council Mayor Jeanette Harding and CEO Tim Tamlin when they took their advocacy efforts to Canberra to meet with key advisors to the Minister for Infrastructure Warren Truss.
“We are delighted to have secured this Federal funding, which demonstrates the government’s commitment to children and families in the Korumburra district,” Ms Marriott said. “We got the call last night from Russell Broadbent’s office – it was a really pleasant surprise followed by lots of tears, screaming and yells.”
Ms Marriott said the success in gaining funding was due to a collaborative effort.
“This really shows what you can achieve when you work together,” she said.
Construction is set to start later this year, and on completion the centre will include two kindergarten rooms, a babies’ room as well as offering before and after school care.
Maternal and child health and specialist services will also be offered at the centre.
“We are also going to look at how we can use the facility in different ways,” Ms Marriot said.
“We will have a best practice centre which we want to use to help our families so that they can be the best parents they can be.
“Whether that be after hours parenting programs, guest speakers, educational support – we want it to be a one stop shop for local families.”
The former Korumburra Kindergarten and Birralee Childcare Centres are already operating under the KCCC banner with Sue Ritchie recently appointed as the operational manager of both campuses.
The South Gippsland Shire Council director of Community Services Jan Martin said the two now operate as one service across two sites.
“The governance and management model has been established before the build,” she said.
“And KCCC has already taken over the after school program which is operating at the primary school at the moment, and then will move over to the new centre when it is completed.”
South Gippsland Shire Council mayor Jeanette Harding said it was a great outcome for Korumburra and its surrounding communities.
“This amazing partnership between council and parents from the Korumburra community has been a positive example of how communities can work together to achieve something quite significant,” she said.
“It is an investment in the education and care needs of local children.
“The longer term social and economic benefits will be felt for years to come.
“These little children are the ones that will benefit from this and they are our future.”
• An extra 120 childcare places per day. Currently there are only 80 places between the two KCCC sites, with some families on waiting lists for kindergarten services.
• 27 new jobs will be created in educator and ancillary roles.
• Maternal and child healthcare services will be offered on site.
• Before and after school care will be available at KCCC.
• Specialist services reducing barriers for families entering the workforce or returning to study will also be available.
• Construction is expected to start later this year, with the project set to be completed in 2017.