Close the gap: funds sought for indigenous kids

Both sides of politics agree on "closing the gap" between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians, but action has proved slow according to workers at a Berkeley indigenous childcare centre.

Noogaleek Children's Centre workers warned on Monday it would be forced to raise prices if the federal government refused to increase the centre's funding.

Parents now pay $16 a day per child, but if the centre is forced to turn to a rebate model of funding, prices for parents could rise to more than $30 a day.

Early childhood teacher Manola Schembri said the centre "closed the gap" between indigenous and non-indigenous children.

Keeping the centre affordable for indigenous and single parents was vital, she said.

"I believe if we're going to give these kids a chance at life, they need the attention and programs we provide," she said.

"For example, we have hearing checks here every eight weeks, because otitis media [inflammation of the middle ear] is rife among Aboriginal communities."

Noogaleek is funded by the federal government's non-mainstream early childhood education Budget Based Funding (BBF) program.

Throsby MP Stephen Jones has called on the government to recommit funding to the BBF Program and for Prime Minister Tony Abbott to back up his rhetoric on "closing the gap".

Mrs Schembri said the centre's running costs had increased over its 24 years while their funding had remained stagnant.

Indigenous early childhood educator Tanya Moran said she sent her two children to Noogaleek when they were young because of its familial atmosphere.

"Even though we aren't blood related, some of the kids, Aboriginal or not, still call me Aunty."

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