Lane Cove Early Childhood Health Centre Refurbishment Fight

The Lane Cove Early Childhood Health Centre (LCECHC) is a critical part of the Lane Cove Community.  This Centre services all parents in Lane Cove who have a child between the age of 0 and 5.  The purpose of the Centre is to provide support to local parents during a very difficult (and beautiful) time. The  Centre provides information, education, and support and postnatal home visiting from birth to two years, referral to pediatric, speech and occupational therapy, new parent groups, early childhood health and developmental checks for children 0—5.

The LCECHC is run by the Northern Sydney Local Health District (NSLHD).  This is a state government body.  However, the LCECHC operates out of a Lane Cove Council facility pursuant to a 70-year-old agreement between State Government and Local Government. Seems simple, the State Government provides the staffing and the Local Government provides the facilities.

Until recently LCECHC was located on the ground floor of the Lane Cove Community Centre. The premises were run down and quite frankly depressing.  The breastfeeding room was tired and old.  An early childhood centre should be a place of cleanliness and calm.  The nurses work hard and provide so much support but they are let down by their working environment.

The Lane Cove Community Centre is currently undergoing major renovations to provide a creative space to run creative workshops and exhibitions.  The only area of the community centre not to be refurbished is LCECHC – see the out of scope works on the plan below.

For over 2 years the Lane Cove Council and the NSLHD have been discussing the refurbishment of the Early Childhood Centre with both sides refusing to commit to upgrading a vital community service.  Finally, Lane Cove Council came to the party and agreed to fix up the waiting area and some other communal areas.  They also temporarily relocated LCECHC to the Lane Cove Civic Centre so that parents did not have to visit a renovation site.

In the Cove asked NSLHD for a comment on why the Centre was not being upgraded.  A NSLHD spokesperson advised as follows:

“Northern Sydney Local Health District is committed to providing the best possible facilities for parents and families using our early childhood health services.

The Lane Cove Early Childhood Centre operates out of a building owned by Lane Cove Council who have been undertaking refurbishments.

The Centre has temporarily relocated while the works are being undertaken and expect to move back to the refurbished building by mid-2018.

The District will work with Council to look at options to enhance the centre.

Both council and the District appreciate the service proved by our staff at the Early Childhood Health Centre.

NSLHD is very grateful for the Council’s ongoing support and their investment in the building refurbishment works.”

It’s time to stop arguing and playing pass the buck politics.  Lane Cove Council and NSLHD should sit down and device a plan to ensure the parents of Lane Cove have better Early Childhood facilities.  Why was LCECHC not relocated to the sparkling new Little Street building when the rest of the Lane Cove Community Centre tenants were relocated? This should have been the time for NSLHD and the Lane Cove Council to discuss options.

The Lane Cove Council has said it will NOT be involved with refurbishing LCECHC.  This was made very clear to In the Cove by Craig Wrightson LCC General Manager when ITC raised this issue at a Lane Cove Council Meeting in late 2016.

It does not matter who pays for the refurbishment.  The fact of the matter is that Lane Cove needs a better Early Childhood Health Care Centre and parent room/change room facilities.

The LCECHC should not be seen solely as a state government responsibility due to the community work it undertakes and the community building it fosters. The photo below shows several mothers’ groups meeting in the Lane Cove Plaza. The Plaza is packed on Tuesday and Thursday with prams, as that is the traditional day for group meetings at the LCECHC. Lane Cove needs better parent facilities.

The Lane Cove Children’s and Family Social Plan 2010 to 2014 (published in June 2010) noted that in 2010 there has been a 22% increase in the birth rate of residents living on the North Shore and that has seen a corresponding increase in the demand for early childhood health service offered by the LCECHC.   These figures are of course out of date and were published before the resulting boom in Apartment Living in Lane Cove.

The Lane Cove Council social plan clearly notes and recognizes that the LCECHC provides a significant community benefit.

It also notes the lack of parent rooms and facilities in Lane Cove.  The waiting room and breast-feeding room that forms part of the LCECHC is an integral part of the Lane Cove community facilities.  People use the LCECHC rooms for breastfeeding and changing rooms.  They also use the facilities as a playroom on rainy days.

Frustrated with the lack of action on behalf of the NSLHD, ITC contacted our local member the Hon Anthony Roberts and asked him to speak to NSW Health.  Anthony Roberts advised that he has spoken personally with the NSW Health Minister.  Anthony Roberts told ITC that it was not acceptable for important front-line workers to operate in substandard conditions and he would be keeping an eye on the situation.

ITC will be keeping an eye on this as well.

Do you have a local issue you would like help with? ITC is here to help just email us at [email protected]

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