Rural towns across Australia face challenges when to comes to childcare access. The small town of Onslow 1,383Km north of Perth, is no different. Distance, availability of teachers, community issues, and lack of services and housing are barriers to delivering education and care in rural towns and remote communities.
The Australia Talks National Survey 2021 found 57 per cent of people living in rural areas said they had some sort of difficulty finding good quality childcare, compared to 41 per cent of those in inner-metro areas.
Working with the community
One Tree has been delivering remote and rural early education and care for nearly 50 years. We understand that working in collaboration with the community and stakeholders is one way to dismantle barriers and expand childcare capacity in smaller towns.
In 2020, the Chevron-operated Wheatstone Project supported the expansion of the local childcare building to double the childcare centre’s service capacity. The expansion was recently completed and the increased capacity for childcare was welcomed by Onslow familes.
Bringing educators to Onslow
One Tree is expanding our Onslow team of early education professionals to support the extra childcare places. To entice people to move to Onslow, Chevron Australia has led a joint initiative BHP, the Onslow Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI), Onslow Salt, and the Shire of Ashburton to develop a support package for eligible new and existing employees in Onslow.
“We welcome the opportunity to work with the community to increase the number of places we can offer local families. There is a national crisis with a lack of qualified childcare workers at the moment. The incentives will hopefully help”, says Karri Hillier, CEO.
The support package allows One Tree to offer eligible staff an incredible employment package supported by the local business community in need of more care This package provides eligible new and existing Onslow team members with an opportunity to boost their earnings. And if they’re moving from a city, they can try country living while they’re at it. Plus, the extended capacity of the service has allowed us to open a position for a trainee to join the team.
Our in-house One Tree Registered Training Organisation (RTO) deliver training to students in remote and rural locations. Having our own RTO deliver the new Onslow traineeship allows us to upskill a local person and build future childcare capacity in Onslow.
Training the next generation of early education professionals is crucial right now. The Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority predicts the sector will need an extra 39,000 staff by 2023. We’re proud that our training organisation offers quality training to students in hard-to-reach locations and builds the early education workforce outside of Australian cities.
For now, our Onslow team are excited to welcome children and families to the new and improved service. Karri says, “Our Onslow team are excited to be working in the new space. We have provided quality care for children for nearly 50 years, and we’re committed to keep doing so in Onslow and beyond.”