City calls for feedback on Draft Early Years Infrastructure Strategy
The City of Greater Bendigo is calling for public feedback on a Draft Early Years Infrastructure Strategy as part of its contribution to ensuring that there are sufficient kindergarten services to meet the current and future needs of the community over the next 10 years.
Greater Bendigo is serviced by 51 long day care and stand-alone kindergarten services. The City owns or manages 16 of these kindergarten buildings. It also owns and runs two long day care services with kindergarten programs. The remainder are owned or operated by other organisations or private operators.
City of Greater Bendigo Community Wellbeing Manager Richie Evans said Greater Bendigo’s population is growing and the recent introduction of funded three and four-year old kindergarten is placing pressure on the ageing kindergarten infrastructure owned or managed by the City.
“Unfortunately, most of the buildings the City owns or manages for early years services are more than 35 years old and some are simply no longer suitable to run a contemporary service from,” Mr Evans said.
In 2022 a contemporary kindergarten building should have a minimum of two playrooms, indoor/outdoor play spaces, access for children of all abilities, environmental sustainability, amenities for staff, office, break room and storage. There should also be co-located services with schools, Maternal and Child Health or allied health services and offer a good proximity to an activity centre.
“The draft strategy was developed following an analysis of supply and demand for kindergarten places in each region, an analysis of the location of City owned buildings in comparison to other service providers, building audits including condition reports and maintenance costs per year and targeted community consultation.”
Recommendations of the draft strategy include a new build, expansion of existing buildings and some closures of kindergarten buildings that are no longer fit-for-contemporary purpose.
The recommendations are not about providing less services they are about redistributing services to the areas that need them the most.
The areas in Greater Bendigo that don’t have enough kindergarten places include the zone covering Marong, Lockwood, Ravenswood, Mandurang, Sedgwick, Emu Creek, Axe Creek and the zone covering Eppalock, Eaglehawk, California Gully, Sailors Gully, Eaglehawk North and Jackass Flat. The City is working with the Department of Education and Training to address this.
The City is keen to know if the draft strategy is easy to understand, if it has covered everything it needs to and if residents agree with the recommendations.
Residents can provide their feedback by visiting the City’s Let’s Talk webpage www.letstalkgreaterbendigo.com.au/early-years by Wednesday March 23, 2022
All feedback received by the City will be considered and any changes will be incorporated into the final Early Years Infrastructure Strategy before it is presented to Council for adoption.