In-home childcare for FMG families announced

Alexander ScottNorth West Telegraph
File pictures of a newborn yawning (Thomas Kenworthy, born on May 22, 2019)
Camera IconFile pictures of a newborn yawning (Thomas Kenworthy, born on May 22, 2019) Credit: The West Australian, Danella Bevis

Child care in the mining mecca of Port Hedland has been given a major boost by a resources giant in the wake of ongoing issues in the town.

Fortescue Metals Group launched its In Home Childcare program for its Port Hedland staff recently, providing families with access to self-employed early childhood educators that will care for up to five children living in one home.

The measure has been implemented as an extension of the similar Fortescue Family Room program in Perth, established in 2017.

The company will support the recruitment, training and support costs for 20 early childhood educators over a two-year period, with parents responsible for the cost of the care service.

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The program will be facilitated by the local YMCA branch.

The North West Telegraph reported earlier this year there was a chronic shortage of childcare options in Port Hedland after four providers ceased operations in as many years, resulting in a waitlist more than double the town’s capacity.

A Town of Port Hedland survey showed 44 per cent of respondents had been on a waiting list for more than one year, prompting the council to convert its library into a temporary childcare facility.

Hedland Well Women’s Centre chief executive Rebekah Worthington said the project was important in addressing childcare issues.

“A lot of women want to go back to work, so any program that helps in alleviating the childcare wait lists is going to be a benefit,” she said.

“There is a lot of working happening in the Town to help the childcare availability issues, there’s a lot of collaborative groups meeting to discuss this as a collective.”

Fortescue chief executive Elizabeth Gaines said FMG was focused on implementing policies such as child care that helped people balance work and family responsibilities.

“Many of Fortescue’s residential families have difficultly accessing traditional child care due to limited vacancies or standard operating hours not aligning with rosters,” she said.

“Not only does this impact an individual’s ability to work as much as they choose, it can limit the opportunity to attract and retain talent,” she said.

“By increasing the availability and flexibility of in-home care to our Hedland operations team, we are providing a practical solution that supports women and men balancing work and family responsibilities.”

Port Hedland trade assistant Bryni Kelly said in-home care would help enable her to move forward in her career.

“I would like to progress to full-time work, but trying to find someone to care for my child has been hard,” she said.

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