When I had my first child, I used to walk past the shell that was once the Black Rock Maternal and Child Health Centre and think about how nice (no, how necessary) it was for us to still have a health centre in the area.
Instead, like all mums in that area at the time, it was a case of getting in the car and driving to a wonderful, but very stretched centre in another suburb because the Kennett Government in its seek and destroy mission to wipe out community services, had deemed this centre as no longer necessary for mums. These were the years when visits to maternal health centres were cut back to a far more fiscally restrained timeline.
Its closure, to me, represented a far wider issue relating to services for mothers and children: how services had been cut back to bare necessities.
Something I had already been reminded of in the major public hospital where I was booted out after the birth - as per standard policy - before I had even learned to breastfeed my child. Sent home with severe mastitis which tooks months of antibiotics to clear up, because my time in hospital was offically over and they didn't really want to know. An irony really when I ended up back there in casualty with the mastitis - was I any less of a strain on the health system there than in staying another night or two in the maternity ward? Which health policy planners came up with the idea anyway that women should leave hospital before breastfeeding has been properly established? No wonder we have such low rates of breastfeeding. But I'm getting off topic - that's another story.
I was reminded again of this dearth of funding for early childhood when it came time to enrol my first child in three year old kinder. Fabulous kinder programs, amazing and dedicated teachers, beautiful facilities, but limited funding meant that compared to many international and even interstate models, our three year olds are not getting the hours they need in an early learning environment. Unless, we pay privately of course.
Anyway, I guess what I'm saying is that I, like many new mums, learned very early that
much more could be done to support the health and wellbeing of new mothers and babies. Something Kevin Rudd has been alluding to recently, with talk of more money being injected into early childhood.
However, in its wisdom, Bayside Council is wanting to go against this hopeful new avenue for early childhood and instead sell this important public asset. I've written about this before and how important this building is. Three Bayside Councillors agree and are against the sale. Stand up and take a bow:
Cr Alex del Porto
If you're in the area and believe in our maternal health centres, come along to the rally and sausage sizzle:
When: Saturday May 31 from 10.30am - 12 noon
Where: Black Rock Pre-School, 55 Bluff Road, Black Rock
For more information, the campaign to save the centre now has a website: www.BlackRockAction.org