Manuka childcare centre holds protest after being told to move

Hannah Claudianos, five, and Jack Rochester, three, join their fellow students to protest the closure of MOCCA.

Hannah Claudianos, five, and Jack Rochester, three, join their fellow students to protest the closure of MOCCA. Photo: Jamila Toderas

A popular childcare centre in Manuka was full of the children’s laughter and Elvis songs on Saturday but in less than two years, could be replaced by the ring of poker machines, according to the centre.

The Manuka Occasional Childcare Association, based at Flinders Way, was told in February it would be moved from its current location to a new block on New South Wales Crescent beside Telopea Park.

Their land would then be given to the Canberra Services Club, which has been without a venue since its previous one burnt down three years ago.

MOCCA members held a protest on Saturday to oppose what they see as being “evicted” from its current premises to a new location they can’t afford.

The centre has been at its current location since 1963 and has operated in Manuka  since 1927.

Narrabundah-resident Samantha Harris, whose first child started attending the centre three years ago, said the closure would be loss for the community.

“This is a beautiful school, it’s award-winning and I’d be very reluctant to put my child in the care of another centre,” she said.

“It’s like a big family and it’s a family that’s part of the broader community … it would just be very sad.”

Centre director Robby McGarvey said although staff were initially thrilled to find out about a new site, their joy quickly turned to despair when they learnt they wouldn’t be given a new building or any extra funding to buy it.

“I don’t know why this was not offered … or why the government expects a not-for-profit community organisation to leave this well-loved community facility,” she said.

“Across the week we have up to 120 children using the facility and we do cater for occasional childcare places as well … what the community is saying is that it basically feels like we’re being evicted.

Centre president Paula Claudianos said as a not-for-profit, with no assets, the centre would not be unable to buy the new block on offer by the ACT government and would have to lease instead.

“We’re the ones who are losing out the most, and to make us move and give us nothing? Not a single shred of support? The only thing they were willing to give us is an option, which we can’t even take so there’s no support,” she said.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the existing 70-place childcare centre would be replaced by a new purpose-built 100-place centre on a nearby site, though it might be run by a different operator.

“The current operator has first refusal on renting the brand new centre,” he said.

“A number of other childcare providers have approached the government expressing interest in operating a centre on the new site if the current operator doesn’t take up the offer.

“Whatever happens there will be more childcare places, in a modern purpose-built building, available to parents in the area under this arrangement and the current centre will remain until the new higher-quality and expanded facility is operational.”

Source Article from http://smh.com.au/act-news/manuka-childcare-centre-holds-protest-after-being-told-to-move-20150328-1m9im0.html
Manuka childcare centre holds protest after being told to move
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