12 DECEMBER 2023
South32's Cannington Mine in North West Queensland is providing funding to support the development of new early childhood education and care services in neighbouring communities.
The need for additional early childhood education and care facilities has previously been identified as an objective for both Mckinlay and Cloncurry Shires, providing important support for families already living in the region - and offering an incentive for families that may be considering moving to Julia Creek or Cloncurry.
The two Shires secured funding from the Queensland Government's Resourcing Community Infrastructure Fund last year to build a new early learning centre in Cloncurry and a new children's services hub in Julia Creek that will provide childcare facilities and a health services consultation room.
However, properly staffing both facilities has been identified as a potential challenge and South32 Cannington's funding will be used to employ a childcare specialist who will help to address this and ensure both facilities operate at the required capacity once opened.
South32 Cannington Vice President Operations Joe Russell said "Early childhood education and care is a vital service for our communities.
"As well as supporting early childhood development, having these facilities is important for many of the working families that already live in our region. Having good quality early childhood education and care facilities is also an important factor when we think about attracting skilled workers to come and live in this great part of the world.
"We're pleased to lend a helping hand to support McKinlay and Cloncurry Shires as they develop these new facilities - and we're proud to continue supporting the communities that host our operations."
McKinlay Shire Deputy Mayor, Councillor Janene Fegan said "This is an exciting project, investing in the future of our community and especially the future of our Shire.
"The science of early development has clearly established the first five years of life as the most critical for building the foundations for life-long learning, well-being, and health. Council also acknowledges the continued community support of South32 Cannington Mine."
Cloncurry Shire Council Mayor Greg Campbell noted the significance of securing funding from various sources to progress this crucial project for Cloncurry.
"Queensland Reconstruction Authority have supported Council through the design phase of this project and the Resources Community Infrastructure Fund funding is allowing us to progress with the construction of this amazing new 105-place childcare facility in Cloncurry. We are also very thankful for South32's support to assist in developing the business plan required to transition from our existing service to delivering an expanded service at our new facility in early 2025."
Mel Comerford, Managing Director of childcare management provider Astute Early Years Specialists said "We are passionate about providing all children with access to high quality education and care, and are proud to be supporting these communities. Our dedicated experience in regional and remote communities enables us to truly understand the complex challenges early childhood services in regional communities face each day.
Pictured (left to right): Tenneil Cody, Director of Corporate and Community Services (McKinlay Shire Council), Leah Morgan, Principal, Community (South32) and Trevor Williams, CEO (McKinlay Shire Council)