Family Matters No. 28 - April 1991

Child care resources: inner and outer Melbourne

Andrew Burbidge

Abstract

Is there an adequate supply of child care places in Melbourne? Are some areas over-resourced? Preliminary inquiries to inner city centres indicate that there continues to be a shortage of places to meet the needs of parents who live and work in the inner city and that the issue is one of overall supply, not just of geographical distribution of child care places.

Is there an adequate supply of child care places in Melbourne? Are some areas over-resourced?

The locational availability of child care was the subject of a recent article by Andrew Burbidge in the last issue of Family Matters (No.27, November 1990). He reported on two forms of measurement based on statistics collected for the Institute's Australian Living Standards Study - the number of centres in each of Melbourne's inner, middle, outer and fringe areas, and the number of employed families with young children in comparison to the availability of child care in each area.

The statistics showed that the number of available child care places is disproportionately higher in the inner city areas than in the middle, outer and fringe suburbs.

From this, two conclusions may be drawn: the first is that the inner areas of Melbourne are over-resourced, from which a reasonable argument could follow advocating the reallocation of a proportion of resources from the inner suburbs to those areas most disadvantaged; the second is that the total supply of child care resources is inadequate.

On this basis, the Institute has instigated discussion with the coordinators of various inner suburban child care centres to gain some impression of the availability of long day care places for children of working parents. Information was provided by centres in Pascoe Vale, Moonee Ponds, Brunswick, Preston, Northcote, Port Melbourne, South Melbourne, Richmond, Windsor and Collingwood.

The number of children awaiting places in the participating centres varied from approximately 30 to 165. Most of these places were required for children under three years old.

The centres that could estimate the approximate waiting period, suggested that working parents may have to wait anywhere from 3 to 18 months to place their children in long day care.

Those involved in providing child care argue that demand in their inner city areas is growing daily and there continues to be a shortage of places to meet the needs of working parents.

So although statistics indicate that there are more places for children in these areas, their problems appear to be similar to those experienced by middle, outer and fringe areas. The issue seems clearly to be one of overall supply, not just of geographical distribution of child care places.

These indications will be examined more fully in our Australian Living Standards Study which examines 12 regions with varied service resources across the nation.