A briefing was given to the ASU today by the office of the Hon Peter Garrett AM, MP – Minister for Early Childhood and Youth.
Greg McLean, Assistant National Secretary met with the Minister's office on current government funding for child care and the announcement earlier this week of a bill to establish the Early Years Quality Fund Account. The bill proposes to establish a special account to administer funding for the early childhood education sector and is before Parliament in June.
The Fund will provide $300 million over two years to early childhood services, helping centres to attract and retain qualified professionals in the sector.
Committee representatives to oversee the Fund are to be announced soon. The ASU will contact all members once the committee is established and continue to ensure local government gets its fair share from the Fund. Our submissions later this week to Federal Parliament will welcome the creation of an Early Years Quality Fund Account that benefits early childhood educators. We will send our submission to the Fund committee and meet with the committee representatives, including the Minister's Department representatives on the committee.
Further meetings with the Minister's office will be held as necessary.
The Minister's office advised that some pre-requisites have already been set-out for child care centres to obtain monies, including having an Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA) in place. Branches with existing EBAs lodged with the Fair Work Commission that cover council child care centres and agreements that cover whole of council workforce (including child care centres), will have sufficient grounds for council to make funding applications to a committee.
Councils will not need to negotiate a new EBA
Agreements in place at local government child care centres and councils in general all meet the test for an EBA. The Minister's office advises that it is absolutely not true that existing EBAs need to be varied – if the agreements offer in excess of the award, council can make application to access monies from the Early Years Quality Fund Account, for increasing remuneration, providing additional professional development, additional superannuation benefits and other payments to early childhood educators.
We made representation to the Minister's office concerning NSW, that we would expect NSW councils be covered in a similar way. The committee that will oversee the development of guidelines for the funding must ensure that NSW being body political in lieu of body corporate will not miss out and has the same access to monies.
The Minister's office has advised that in NSW it could be an award, salary system or overarching agreement. The ASU will continue to argue that the current NSW Local Government State Award meets the test for an EBA and should allow councils to make applications for additional funding based on the award.
There will be some locations where it is not possible for an EBA and the committee will still pay.
- ASU Submission to Senate Committee Inquiry into Early Years Quality Fund Special Account Bill 2013: A Bill for an Act to establish the Early Years Quality Fund Special Account, and for related purposes, 7 June 2013