(Pine Street Chippendale)
Thank you, Sharon, and good morning, everyone. I would like firstly to acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, the traditional custodians of this land, and I pay my respects to the Elders, both past and present.
A few years ago, when Council investigated the childcare needs of the community, and our own staff, we found there was a scarcity of places for children up to five right across the City. Places for the under-twos were in especially high demand, with waiting times at most centres of up to two years.
We realised that with a growing resident and worker population, those shortages would only increase unless we took quick action.
We required new developments to provide childcare spaces and at the same time expanded our own services, giving us a 30 per cent increase in the number of places over the last four years.
Families and children are a vital element in our Sydney community and we have some terrific new services including those provided in our award-winning Surry Hills Community Centre and new playrooms in the Alexandria and Redfern childcare centres.
We also improved this centre to provide both work and community-based childcare for our staff, and for the local community. I think we're the first Council that has provided a work-based centre for its own staff while offering places in it to the local community.
It was originally built in 1915 as a pre-school and needed to be brought up to contemporary standards with age-appropriate classrooms and sleep rooms, a commercial kitchen, improved staff amenities, children's toilets, nappy change facilities and new toys and equipment.
Thanks to new ramps to the entrance and playground, it's also a fully accessible centre.
In line with our 2030 plan, we've also improved the building's sustainability: there's a large rainwater tank, new solar panels, new doors and windows to improve airflow and natural temperature control, and energy efficient fittings using environmentally friendly materials.
We're very pleased to have a strong, community-based, not-for-profit operator, Children's Services Community Management, to run this service on our behalf. I'd like to hand over now to its CEO, Leanne Gibbs, and I hope you can all stay on to enjoy the rest of today's activities.