Posted on 31. May, 2010 in News

The uncertainty surrounding the future of 137 ABC Learning Centres in Victoria will end today with the completion of work to transfer the running of the facilities to a new operator.

Minister for Children and Early Childhood Development Maxine Morand said the centres would be officially licensed to GoodStart today – benefiting more than 10,000 Victorian children and their families.

Ms Morand said the transfer meant that the ABC Learning Centres moved out of receivership and into the hands of GoodStart, a new organisation established with the backing of four not-for-profit organisations.

The transfer of services to GoodStart across Australia has been supported by a $15 million Federal Government loan.

“GoodStart will also benefit from about $2 million in payroll tax relief from the Brumby Labor Government to assist in the smooth transition,” Ms Morand said.

“This is great news for everyone involved and a fantastic result for the thousands of children and their families using these children’s centres across Victoria.

“While the seamless transition from the ABC Learning receivers to GoodStart means families will barely notice the change, it is a significant milestone.

“The collapse of ABC Learning caused great uncertainty for families and staff of these centres and the transfer of licences closes the book on this period.”

Ms Morand said the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development had completed the transfer of licences for these centres and new licences had been sent to all 137 centres so they could open as GoodStart from today.

“With the licensing process finalised today, parents should feel confident that the GoodStart centres will continue to provide a high level of care.”

Ms Morand said the work behind the scenes on licensing and payroll tax relief provided by the Brumby Labor Government had complemented the investment made by the Rudd Government to help ensure ABC Learning Centres remained open.

In addition to the $15 million loan, the Federal Government committed $58 million soon after ABC Learning went into receivership to provide continuity of care for children and to find sustainable solutions for as many ABC services as possible.

Treasurer John Lenders said the Brumby Labor Government was the first state government to approve an ex gratia waiver of payroll tax from 27 December 2009 until the completion of the sale giving GoodStart a financial boost at the start of their operation.

“In these extraordinary circumstances it is appropriate to provide temporary tax relief to help ensure Victoria’s parents can continue to access the childcare places provided by GoodStart,” Mr Lenders said.

“Following ABC’s collapse we are taking action to ensure GoodStart has a strong financial future so they can keep providing valuable childcare assistance to Victoria’s parents.”

He said the full cost of the relief was expected to be worth about $2 million.

Minister Morand said she had met with GoodStart chief executive officer Matthew Horton and looked forward to a productive ongoing relationship with the new childcare operator.

The GoodStart syndicate includes Mission Australia, The Benevolent Society, Social Ventures Australia and the Brotherhood of St Laurence.

Negotiations for the transfer of a further 40 services in Victoria are continuing and are expected to be finalised soon. These services will be operated under the management of GoodStart during this period.

Local services transferring include:

Southern Metropolitan A.B.C. Developmental Learning Centre – Bentleigh East    
Eastern Metropolitan A.B.C. Developmental Learning Centre – Clayton
Southern Metropolitan A.B.C. Developmental Learning Centre – Mentone
Eastern Metropolitan A.B.C. Developmental Learning Centre – Oakleigh
Eastern Metropolitan A.B.C. Developmental Learning Centre – Oakleigh South
Southern Metropolitan A.B.C. Developmental Learning Centre – South Road Moorabbin
Southern Metropolitan A.B.C. Developmental Learning Centre – Springvale

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