6 March 2018

Page 3


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Tuesday 6 March 2018

5973 6424 or email: team@mpnews.com.au www.mpnews.com.au Moving in: A blue-tongue lizard received plenty of attention from pupils from the Woodleigh School’s Penbank campus - Sofia, Grace, Ava and Mia - when it emerged from a “lizard lounge” they created as part of the Balcombe Creek Landcare program. Picture: Yanni

New homes for wildlife PENBANK pupils are becoming expert at creating and maintaining habitats for wildlife as part of the Balcombe Creek Landcare program. The Moorooduc campus of the Woodleigh School won the Victorian Junior Landcare program last year and has qualified for this year’s Australian Landcare awards. Pupils from grades 5 and 6 regularly visit a Mornington Peninsula Shire reserve next to Tony O’Connor’s property in Century Drive, Mt Martha, where their creations are finding favour with the natural inhabitants. The pupils make possum boxes, frog ponds and lizard lounges and other cliff habitats. Mr O’Connor, president of the Balcombe and Moorooduc Landcare Group, said the reserve was ideal for the pupils’ projects. “My interests are to get the children involved in land care and in creating wildlife habitats,” said the former teacher. The land-care program was backed with a $10,000 shire grant three years ago. Others pupils involved in the program come from Benton Junior College and St Macartans Primary School, Mornington.

Parents baffled by childcare loss Stephen Taylor steve@mpnews.com.au PARENTS of children who attend child care and playgroups at Mornington Community Contact House were in limbo on Friday after liquidators moved in and closed the centre. Parents were only told the night before or Friday morning that the Albert Street centre was insolvent. Some had already paid for the year and were unsure whether they would get the money back. They also had no idea where they will take their children this week. Georgie Beck, of Mt Eliza, and Keli Wallace, who runs Daytripper Tours in



Mornington, said they had both paid nearly $2000 for four terms of threeyear-old kinder. “We rocked up this morning and were told the centre had closed down,” Ms Wallace said. “I’m devastated. I rely on occasional care. As a business owner I need somewhere to take my kids, so I hope they can get something else going. “It’s horrible the centre has to go. I’ve had no time to process it. I really don’t know what I am going to do next.” Ms Beck said 10 pupils attended her child’s classes on Mondays, Tuesday and Wednesdays. “How can they take a year’s fees and then go bankrupt?” she asked.

Teachers walked out in tears on Friday morning as liquidator Norman Jones, of Courtney Jones and Associates, moved in. He said he was appointed by Mornington Community Contact’s management committee to oversee the voluntary winding up. He said Mornington Community Contact was “insolvent” but that he did not know “what has been paid and what is owed”. “We will look at the books and records and write to parents within seven days to tell them the situation,” he said. Mornington Peninsula Shire chief financial officer Matt Green said the council-owned property was leased to Mornington Community Contact.


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was hired Thursday night and it was “not appropriate to tell parents details beyond that we have been appointed”. Mr Green said the shire had provided finance to the centre. He said “standard support” given to similar centres was $13,000 a year. Staff members at the centre were instructed not to speak to The News about the closure, although many were obviously upset. Set up in 1977 as a drop-in centre, meeting place and short term child minding centre, Mornington Community Contact moved to its present address in Albert Street in 1985 and grew to provide education and adult literacy programs, support for volunteers as well as playgroups and childcare.

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“We are here today to do the best we can to ensure the continuation of [the centre’s] services to the community,” he said. “We are trying to understand the liquidator’s position and to step in and support the parents.” Mr Green said the shire would “work with the liquidators on ways to continue the centre’s valuable services”. Mr Jones said: “We would support that but only subject to personal liability.” The men agreed their investigations “may help to mitigate the loss of fees” by parents. Asked about the late notice given to parents, Mr Jones said his company

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