Thursday, February 1, 2024


Mackay and Whitsunday Life

Little Diggers Receive Big Help

The Little Diggers Day Care Centre in Collinsville is now comfortably able to continue its services while awaiting government accreditation thanks to $10,000 worth of funding given by the Whitsunday Regional Council to help with operational costs.

The only day care centre in Collinsville is currently waiting for the government tick to be able to process the childcare subsidies that will offer parents on average between 50 and 85 percent off their childcare fees.

At the moment, parents are having to pay around $70 per day for the service which, committee member and Collinsville State School Principal, Matt Gee, says is often preventing them from re-entering the workforce.

In addition, the fees are also not currently able to cover the full operational costs of the not-for-profit business.

Established in 2019, Little Diggers is the passion-project of four dedicated committee members and parents who came together to ask a simple question – why is there no daycare in Collinsville?

The only small family daycare centre, that took four children in total, closed that year when the educator moved away and meant there was no-where in town for babies and toddlers to receive childcare so their parents could work.

“I was struggling to get staff members - when they found out there was no daycare,” said Mr Gee.

“Mining companies said they were also having the same problem; it was a real issue for us.”

This prompted Mr Gee and the rest of the committee to identify a disused pre-school at the Collinsville State School site as a potential location for the daycare and they subsequently received government permission to use the facility.

A combination of State Government, Whitsunday Regional Council, Glencore and QCoal funding and assistance soon saw the abandoned building transformed into the new daycare and Little Diggers was born.

During the entire process the small local committee were the driving force behind every aspect, and it is their dedication that guided the whole project forward.

“It was very exciting to see it come to fruition as it took four years to get it up off the ground!” said Mr Gee.

“If someone had told us in the beginning how challenging it was, I am not sure we would have done it, but I am very glad we did!”

The doors to Little Diggers opened just over a year ago and the daycare is now extremely close to receiving government subsidies.

When this happens it will be a game changer for the centre that currently employs six staff and has 19 children registered.

“We’ve got people on the wait list who can’t afford it at the moment,” shared Mr Gee.

“When the rebate comes in, we will be able to employ more staff, open 10 hours a day and take up to 27 children.”

Councillor Michelle Wright has been a strong supporter of Little Diggers, and says she is glad Council could help ensure its continued operation.

“It is a fantastic facility and, as a not for profit, they’re moving leaps and bounds ahead for Collinsville,” she said.

“It’s wonderful to have this service, well done to everyone involved.”

The graduating class of 2023 at Little Diggers in Collinsville. Photo supplied

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