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Childcare regulations anger fitness industry leaders

October 28, 2008
FitnessNZâs has expressed disappointment that its ongoing lobbying of the New Zealand Government for a change in regulations in childcare operations in fitness facilities has largely been ignored.
Speaking of the regulations, which have resulted in the closure of fitness centres being closed down, FitnessNZ Chief Executive Richard Beddie recently stated, âdespite a recent extensive review of this area, the Ministry of Education (MOE) has almost left all of the existing rules in place, and in some cases made it even harder than before for exercise facilities to offer childcare.�?
An angry Beddie added âbefore we thought it was clear the MOE just didnât get the issues, now itâs clear they just donât care about the consequences of their actions of the exercise habits of parents. They seem much more interested in setting up a bunch of bureaucratic rules such as written sleeping logs, instead of focusing on the key issue â that of safety of children�?.
While the new standards addressed some of the industryâs concerns, the new standards are quite unworkable according to feedback collated by FitnessNZ. In particular the supervision ratio of one adult to four children makes it uneconomic given that most facilities charge a token fee (if any) to use such childcare.
As Beddie adds, âthe important thing from our perspective is about making exercise more accessible to parents, and allowing those with children options of taking part in many of the excellent existing exercise programs and facilities on offer in New Zealand. Childcare in that setting should focus on health & safety of children, rather than the MOEâs approach of education and full care service.
âUnfortunately the new standards are more or less identical to the draft, meaning that the issues that the industry has raised has been ignored.
âThe result will be quite simple, very few if any fitness facilities will re-open their childcare facilities, resulting in yet another barrier for parents to take up exercise. We believe this situation is most unsatisfactory, and will continue to lobby the Government for change.�?
The New Zealand National Party spokesperson for early childhood education Paula Bennett has publically stated that the regulations will be repealed if National Party forms the next Government after New Zealandâs elections on 8th November.

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