Shire to vote on controversial Austin Cove childcare centre

Shire of Murray councillors will vote on whether or not to approve a controversial childcare centre at Austin Cove Baptist College at the council meeting on Thursday morning.

The facility, which would be located in their Inlet Boulevard site, has sparked both comments of support and opposition among the local community.

In a submission to the Shire of Murray a parent labeled the proposal as “disgraceful” while other parents expressed their concerns about its potential impact on their children’s education.

“As parents we are paying extremely high fees for a private education, I do not expect to have this impeded by a noisy daycare centre directly next to my child,” one parent wrote.

“We pay these high fees because we expect more not less, and I find it disgraceful that my child’s education should in any way be affected by what is essentially a business operating on school premises.”

Most of the parents’ concerns also referred to the lack of parking facilities on site, the increase in traffic load, the relocation of students away from amenities to make room for the centre, and the existence of a construction site right next to their children’s classroom.

“The school is already terribly congested at pickup and drop off times without this going on,” one of them wrote.

They were also worried lower school fees announced for the upcoming school year would bring a wave of enrollments, further congesting the school and limiting resources.

“[The school] have proved that they have no money to maintain or upgrade the existing school site, or even build the original school that was promised to be opened in 2014-2015,” one parent wrote.

“Yet they want to open a daycare centre to secure future enrollments.”

However, college principal Orlando dos Santos said the facility would “enhance the positive environment of support and learning of children and students from toddlers to Year 12 graduates”.

He said the centre would allow children to transition from babies to Year 12 students surrounded by the school’s culture and values, and would bring new opportunities to older students to get involved in workplace learning.

“The aspect that I am most passionate about is the fact that we will be able to provide an education facility from zero to 17+ years, with our unique and core values which I believe enhances the community in the Shire of Murray,” Mr dos Santos said.

He also said, the relocation of the secondary school to the new California Crescent site had also freed up parking space on the temporary site, which could be taken up by childcare workers and parents.

“When both schools were on the same site, we accommodated approximately 620 students,” he said.

“With less than half the number of students on the primary site at present, I believe that there would be ample parking for the childcare centre.”

Other comments of support from school parents and community members highlighted the need for a childcare facility in the estate and the convenience of dropping off toddlers and students in the same spot for parents.

The proposed childcare facility would be built in one of the current primary school buildings and would cater for 68 children up to five years old.

As part of a previous agreement with the Shire of Murray, the school committed to gradually shift the school to their permanent Austin Cove Baptist Senior High School site on California Crescent.

If the proposal is approved by the Shire of Murray on Thursday, the school will have time until the end of 2022 to relocate the primary school, with the childcare being the last building to be shifted.