Childcare comes to Warrnambool CBD, with promise of 30 jobs

MORE than 30 new jobs will be created when a new childcare centre opens in Warrnambool’s CBD.

A branch of the Koala Childcare and Early Learning Centre is due to be established mid year, freeing up spaces for 103 children in the region’s childcare sector.

New managers Anthony and Lauren Newman said the group identified a need for a childcare facility located close to the city’s commercial precinct and had worked for the past six months to get the business up and running.

The centre will be based in Lava Street’s Bohan Place, incorporating office space previously occupied by South West Healthcare’s mental health division.

“It’s been on the drawing board for a while, so it’s exciting that we’re getting towards the refurbishment stage,” Mr Newman said. 

“There’s a real lack of childcare in the Warrnambool CBD. 

‘‘The feedback we receive from people around town is encouraging and they say how a lot of young families are struggling with waiting lists.”

Koala Childcare and Early Learning operates three centres in Melbourne’s north and eastern suburbs and is operated by Mrs Newman’s sister Narelle Wilson and her husband Brent. Mrs Wilson is company director and Mr Wilson is general manager.

“The negotiations have been extensive but positive,” Mr Newman said. 

“Brent and Narelle want to get the recipe right so we’ve been working on this for the past six to seven months.”

The site forms part of what was once St Joseph’s primary school. 

The Catholic school moved to Botanic Road in 1986 and the site has been used for several purposes since, most recently serving as offices for South West Healthcare’s mental health staff. Koala Childcare will lease the Bohan Place site from its Catholic Church owners.

Mr Newman attended school at St Joseph’s in the 1960s and said it was a strange feeling to return after more than five decades.

He said the old school courtyard would be converted into an adventure playground as part of the redevelopment.

“It’s very different to what I remember way back when,” Mr Newman said. 

“The place has been totally gutted but it’s still an impressive, historic building.

“The location is perfect. Parents will be able to enter off Lava Street and exit on to Fairy Street, which is fantastic for traffic flow.”

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