10 Dec 2008

55 ABC Learning childcare centres to close

4:31 pm on 10 December 2008

Fifty-five childcare centres run by collapsed childcare group ABC Learning in Australia will close next year, affecting thousands of children.

The New Zealand arm of ABC Learning is not affected by the receivership.

Receivers McGrathNicol says about 100 staff are likely to lose their jobs when the Australian centres close on 31 December.

Children at centres earmarked for closure will be offered places at nearby ABC Learning centres, within an average 2.5km radius, and 80% of staff at those centres will also move, it says.

The receiver says 720 centres will remain open and operating as normal next year.

Another 241 centres have been identified as unviable but will trade into 2009 under an arrangement with the Federal Government, the ABC website reports.

The Australian government will give up to another $A34 million to keep the 241 unviable centres open "if necessary" until the end of March next year.

Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard says the Government believes some of those centres could be profitable if other arrangements were made.

Ms Gillard also says the Government will apply to the New South Wales Supreme Court for a court appointed receiver to work with the government, staff and parents.

Twenty-one centres owned and leased by the Department of Defence will also stay open.