Secret vote closes Citiplace childcare

• City of Perth’s Citiplace Childcare Centre’s doors will slide closed for good in September.

Parents up in arms

CITY parents say they’ve been left in the lurch after Perth council decided to shut the Citiplace Childcare Centre without first consulting them.

The 33-year-old centre will close in September following a behind closed doors decision by councillors on March 29. The item was opaquely titled “service review”.

The review was not good: The centre runs at a “significant loss” to the city, and there’s competition from increasing numbers of privately run centres nearby.

Families are now petitioning the council to keep the centre open.

No consultation

Former councillor Reece Harley’s son has been going to the centre for four years.

He says there was no consultation with parents or centre staff.

“The wonderful educators, with decades of experience, have been left in puddles of tears,” Mr Harley said.

“Families’ plans have been upended, needing to find alternative care for a short period just a few months before Christmas.”

Mr Harley says all the parents he’s spoken to support raising fees to keep the centre viable, which the council would’ve known if it had consulted first.

“One hundred per cent of surveyed parents agreed to increase daily fees from $135 to $145 or up from $550 to 600 a week for the full-time rate.”

Mr Harley says while there are other childcare centres in the city, Citiplace is unique in providing an hourly creche, while it’s also qualified to look after infants. 

Lord mayor Basil Zempilas said there was no longer the same demand as when the centre opened.

“In the city, we are lucky to have many options,” he said. 

“In fact, a recent report into childcare across Australia recognised Perth City was one of six areas in Western Australia which had enough places to meet demand.”

The centre is used by 53 families. It’s the cheapest in the city at $550 a week, with others starting around $700, and it’s not easy to get a place.

Work from home

Last week Mr Zempilas implored city workers to stop working from home and come back to the CBD.

Mr Harley says about half the families he’s spoken to indicated if the centre closes “they’d elect to work from home instead”.

Parents were seeking a face to face meeting with the council but hadn’t heard back as the Voice went to print.

by DAVID BELL

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