Hume council has knocked back a request for rubber matting to be installed in the playground of a Meadow Heights childcare centre, despite cat faeces and needles being found among bark covering the yard.
The Meadow Heights Education Centre made a submission to the council’s 2018-19 budget, asking for funding to be set aside for bark in the playground of its occasional care centre to be replaced with rubber matting.
Meadow Heights Education Centre finance manager Rhonda Sadovksy said staff were worried its babies and toddlers could catch toxoplasmosis from the cat faeces lurking in the playground’s bark.
The condition is dangerous for pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems.
Ms Sadovsky said two syringes were also found in the playground.
She said the safety of the playground had been a concern for a number years, with the centre raising the issue with the council on several occasions.
“The cats go to the toilet on the bark, toddlers then fall over because they can’t walk properly on the bark, touch the droppings, and pass the infection on. The symptoms of toxoplasmosis are similar to cold and flu so you don’t know if they have it,” she said.
“There is the potential risk of toxoplasmosis being passed from the toddlers to pregnant staff members or mothers.”
Ms Sadovsky said the centre had offered to pay half the costs of installing the rubber matting.
“I feel sorry for the children … we need to get them outside to play, but it is too dangerous. You can’t see what is under the bark,” she said.
A report to a recent Hume council meeting said the risk of children being infected with diseases from contact with cat faeces is low.
It said removing feral cats from the area was a better long-term solution.
Hume council corporate services director Daryl Whitfort said council officers have begun trapping and removing cats at the Meadow Heights Education Centre.
“Council officers are available to meet with staff at the Meadow Heights Education Centre to provide general advice,” he said.
“Council is committed to a safe community and works in partnership with local community health services and community groups to promote community safety and education programs.”