Childcare plan slips between factional cracks

IN spite of an after school care shortage one councillor called a “crisis,” Bayswater council has voted along factional lines to sink a proposal to fast-track an additional option.

Bayswater has offered to help Maylands Peninsula Primary School find an Out of School Hours Care (OSHC) venue to cater for its 700 students, whose parents face having just one option in the near future.

In July, the city narrowed its focus to the nearby pavilion at Gibbney Reserve, which is under lease to Football West until January 2024.

FBW has said it’s staying at least until a new State Football Centre is constructed in Canning in mid-2023, and while council staff recommended “continuing to explore options”, councillor Elli Peterson-Pik argued it wouldn’t address the urgency and moved an alternative motion to get cracking on readying the pavilion for kids while FBW sees out its tenure.

While there are dozens of families on waiting lists for after school care, Cr Elli Peterson-Pik said: “I know many more who are not even on the waiting list because there is no point.”

Maylands primary has more than doubled its population since opening, which its board attributes to infill housing and local development.

Initially, three OSHC programs served the school, but Maylands Helping Hands closed down in 2019, while this October the north metro JDAP approved the development of the Maylands Commercial Centre, spelling the closure of the YMCA Early Learning Centre.

That means there could be years where the primary school population of 700 students is serviced by a single program.

“There is no other solution,” said Cr Peterson-Pik of his proposal.
But after a five-five vote, mayor Filomena Piffaretti used her casting vote to shoot it down.

Only deputy mayor Catherine Ehrhardt spoke against Cr Peterson-Pik’s proposal, calling it “too strong” because FBW still held the lease for two more years, but the voting went along the lines of a previous item which Cr Peterson-Pik described at the meeting as “political” (“Bull ousted in ‘political’ vote,” Voice, December 18, 2021).

When contacted by the Chook, Cr Ehrhardt said she wanted to maintain a positive relationship with Football West, and thought a move now may be perceived as inappropriate.

When the Chook raised the point that the current lease includes no option to extend, and that FBW had not expressed a wish to stay past January 2024, Cr Ehrhardt said she was not aware of FBW’s plans.

She said she had chosen to accept the officer recommendation since she herself had not liaised with FBW.

In response to the loss of his proposal, Cr Peterson-Pik said, “it is a shame that we did not resolve it today,” and promised to continue raising the issue.

by CARSON BODIE

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