Sue Ellery

Sue Ellery

Minister for Child Protection; Communities; Women's Interests; Seniors and Volunteering

    State Government backs greater childcare support for Pilbara families

    5/08/2008 12:00 AM

    Families with young children living in Newman will soon have more childcare options, with the construction announced today of a new childcare centre catering for up to 120 children.


    Communities Minister Sue Ellery said the centre would be built by BHP Billiton Iron Ore, which employed more than 7,000 people across the Pilbara, and would be centrally located at Rogers Way behind the town’s main shopping complex.


    “This new childcare facility is evidence of the State Government’s support for the building of long-lasting sustainable communities,” Ms Ellery said.


    “The provision of adequate childcare services in rapidly growing communities is an important issue for this Government, and that is why we will work closely with BHP Billiton to help it prepare for the licensing of the new centre.


    “Currently, long-day care services in the towns of Newman and Port Hedland have waiting lists of up to 18 months, placing pressure on families with young children who live and work in the area.


    “The new childcare centre in Newman will not only help meet the needs of BHP Billiton employees; it will make available up to 50 per cent more places in existing childcare services for families who are not employed by BHP Billiton.


    “The result is that parents now constrained by childcare responsibilities will have greater opportunities to gain employment in the community or embrace other roles, such as volunteering, or to simply have some respite from family duties.”


    BHP Billiton Iron Ore general manager Newman Joint Venture Andrew Marxsen said the company’s rapid growth plans had seen an increase in the number of employees with children under five living and working in the Pilbara.


    The company had developed a childcare strategy to help meet the growing demand for childcare services in the region, with a key component being the construction of the new centre in Newman and another earmarked for Port Hedland.


    “The YMCA has been contracted to operate both childcare centres, and in Newman we are now refurbishing some apartments to provide housing for the childcare centre’s staff,” Mr Marxsen said.


    “Our childcare strategy will also see funding of up to $30,000 for existing childcare centres and the providers of services to young children in Newman and Port Hedland, for capital works projects.”


    The Minister said the BHP Billiton strategy was a concept closely aligned with the State Government’s Early Childhood Agenda which sought to ensure the best possible start in life for all Western Australian children.


    The Newman childcare centre is expected to be opened in early 2009.


    Minister's office - 9213 7150