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Future of child care sector under review

28 March 2014 By ASU

kidsclockA Productivity Commission Inquiry and two Senate Committee inquiries make a total of three formed in recent months to look into the child care sector. As the Union for early childhood educators in local government, the ASU continues to amplify the voice of our members with a submission to each of the inquiries.

The ASU's submissions to the Senate Committee and Productivity Commission inquiries focussed on the following areas:

  • How improving the way Government rebates are paid to the public sector will improve cost and availability of care;
  • The importance of the National Quality Framework (NQF) in ensuring services meet minimum standards;
  • How to strengthen the sector by improved public provision of services via cooperation between the levels of government;
  • The importance of early childhood education and care as part of the broader education framework, especially for children at risk; and
  • The need for greater funding of the sector to ensure it is able to deliver the standards of education and care that are required and parents expect of it.

“The ASU has long argued for the importance of local government provision of early childhood education and care,” said ASU Assistant National Secretary Greg McLean.

“Services provided by local government councils have contributed greatly over the long term to better accessibility and affordability of care, and the current series of inquiries are providing us with the opportunity to remind the Government of this,” he said.

Early childhood education and care (ECEC) services provided by local government are amongst the most affordable available, which means they are in high demand. However, vagaries in the rebate system provided by the Federal Government have meant that over the years, the number of these services available has declined.

The ASU argues in our submissions that to remedy this situation the Government should focus on increased public funding of local government provided ECEC services, as well as making that funding available directly to councils. Affordable and available child care services are important to underpin productivity of the Australian workforce by providing parents with the option to return to work.

In relation to the NQF and regulations on the ECEC sector in general, the ASU believes the current regime has delivered higher quality outcomes and greater accountability, and whilst the ASU (via our state Branches) has secured rates of pay higher than the private sector, increased recognition of local government childhood education workers still has a long way to go. Quality care greatly benefits children, with research indicating strong life outcomes for people who have been through centres meeting quality standards before entering school.

The ECEC sector is not a child minding service, it is now well recognised as an intrinsic part of the education system which should be readily available to all Australian children. As such, regulations, funding and accountability are key. The ASU doesn’t support any reductions in standards.

The ASU believes that the primary focus of child care provision in Australia should be ensuring the well-being and optimal development of all our children. That can only happen when Government policy is focussed on quality, availability and affordability to parents. We argue that ECEC services provided by local governments deliver in these areas in a dependable way.

We also ask the Government to recognise the importance of public provision of ECEC services as a key component in the achievement of several government priorities, including social inclusion, workplace participation, the status of women and more.

“We welcome the opportunity through these inquiries to examine how things can be improved in the sector as long as the views of stakeholders like the ASU and community voices are heard,” said Greg McLean

As reports from the inquiries are released, the ASU will provide further information.

More information about the inquiries

Senate Education and Employment References Committee inquiry into the immediate future of the childcare sector in Australia:               

Senate Education and Employment References Committee inquiry into the delivery of quality and affordable early childhood education:

Productivity Commission inquiry into future options for childcare and early childhood learning

Contact Details
Name: Greg McLean, ASU Assistant National Secretary
Telephone: 0419 796 801