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The Bay Island Early Learning Centre on Macleay Island has  been saved in a last-gasp solution that will see the important island child care infrastructure remain open.

The BIELC has reached an ‘agreement’ with the substantial Lady Gowrie Child Care and Early Education organisation that will see an on-going future.

Owner of the vital Macleay Island BIELC care centre, Petrae McLean had, just a few days earlier, announced the popular Early Learning Centre and private business, would close.

This brought about a huge reaction from Macleay Island working parents and the community in general.

The Bay Island Early Learning Centre’s critical financial viability has been well documented in recent editions of The Friendly Bay Islander.

According to owner Petrae McLean, the business viability became an issue when a change in Government policy saw State and Federal funding for childcare impacted,  putting the business under considerable financial pressure.

It was further impacted by the recent opening of a new 22 place Kindergarten facility attached to the Russell Island State School.

Prior to that happening last year, Petrae McLean of Bay Island Early Learning ran a daily bus over to Russell  Island to collect children from that island, since 2013, taking more than 10 students daily across to her Macleay Island facility.

It reached such a critical stage, that in early January, Petrae and her husband Paul, announced that the Bay Island Early Learning Centre was closing, and immediately closed its door.

This resulted in an emergency public meeting that was packed to the rafters at the Macleay Island State School in mid January.

It is believed that community support for Petrae and the Early Learning Centre was ‘outstanding’.

The Lady Gowrie group is a not-for-profit organisation with a strong heritage in early childhood education and care in Queensland and Australia, and has been around since 1940. It is an Australian institution.

It was fortunate that Petrae McLean was able to meet with Lady Gowrie organisation CEO, Louise Jackson.

As a result of their discussions, the Bay Island Early Learning Centre and Long Day Care will become an ‘affiliate’ of the Lady Gowrie group.

It will be the very first ‘private’ early learning centre to link up with the Lady Gowrie organisation.

It is believed the ‘arrangement’ will assist and support BIELC in endeavours to obtain ‘support funding’, allowing it to stay open.

It also means that the Bay Island Early Learning Centre  will now operate via the Lady Gowrie operational system.

Member for Redlands, Kim Richards, attended the meeting and issued a statement stating: “Thank you to the families, community members, Australian Government, Queensland Government, Lady Gowrie, Little Scholars and Bay Islands Early Learning Centre (BIELC) representatives who came together yesterday.

“I’m pleased to hear that Lady Gowrie have committed to the process of Centre Affiliation and will have their team onsite at BIELC next week, with the Centre set to reopen.

“The Centre Affiliation with Lady Gowrie will see the continuation of the BIELC services under the same funding model from the Australian Government and Queensland Government as other services in Queensland.

“The Centre Affiliation will also see changes to operating frameworks; these changes will ensure children and their families continue to have access to quality early childhood education and care. 

“On behalf of our community can I deeply thank Lady Gowrie for their assistance in assisting our island families.”

The outcome has been ‘warmly’ received by Macleay Island families and the many supporters of the Bay Islands Early Learning Centre.



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