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ASU lodges final submission into Productivity Commission review of child care sector

12 September 2014 By ASU

Following the fantastic response to the ASU's survey inquiring into your views of the Productivity Commission's Draft Report on Childcare and Early Childhood Learning, we were well equipped to provide the Union's final response to it via a submission lodged last Friday. We now await the Commission's final report due at the end of October.

childcare-istock 000014810826xsmallThe ASU submission argues once again that additional Government investment in quality early childhood education and care (ECEC) is critical for the best possible future of our children and that of the nation generally. Government funding of ECEC is a crucial part of encouraging workforce participation of parents/carers and that participation in turn yields a stronger economy to benefit all.

"Proper funding of quality child care should not be seen as simple handouts for the lucky few, but an investment that we all benefit from, whether we have children or not," said Greg McLean, ASU Assistant National Secretary.

"In addition to the immediate benefits of more taxpayers in the system delivered by higher workforce participation rates, quality child care services deliver other beneficial community outcomes which need to be recognised, including early intervention for children with special needs."

"It is only with a highly qualified and dedicated ECEC workforce that children are recognised who need additional care and the involvement of other specialist services – these kinds of interventions in the early years ensure a more cohesive community in the future, and less Government expenditure on interventions with teenagers and adults who fell through the safety nets," said Greg McLean.

The submission covered a broad range of issues. Some of the key points include:

  • Opposing watering down of qualification requirements for workers and reductions in staff-child ratios as these moves would undermine quality educational outcomes for the children.

  • Supporting professional wages for ECEC workers to reflect the standards of the work they do and to support a dedicated workforce.

  • Government funding should be focussed on delivering outcomes for the children, not lining the pockets of private operators, especially multinational operators who take their profits offshore.

  • Local government should retain and enhance its regulatory role to ensure ECEC facilities are meeting Australian safety and quality standards – we oppose the characterisation of this role by councils as interference with the ECEC market!

  • Any means testing introduced to determine child care benefits should be set at levels that encourage, not discourage, workforce participation of parents/carers.

  • Although we value the role and contribution of extended family members and nannies to the care of children, providing Government funding to them is problematic as it raises issues around accountability, delivery of educational outcomes, qualifications, etc – we argue it requires significant further scrutiny.

  • The needs of parents/carers employed in non-standard work hours need to be addressed, but should be examined in relation to extending quality centre-based ECEC services.

  • Home-based ECEC workers (eg. in Family Day Care) need appropriate employment regulation and protections.

  • Paid Parental Leave (PPL) is important, but the Government funding mix must provide access to quality ECEC to allow parents/carers to return to work – the balance between funding PPL and ECEC must be considered carefully.

  • Access (affordability and location of services) needs to be a key Government priority in funding ECEC services, to ensure the needs of regional/rural and low income families are met.

  • The importance of retaining local government as a provider of quality ECEC services.

 In light of all the material and submissions presented to the Productivity Commission by the ASU and other child care sector stakeholders, we hope the Productivity Commission will recognise that the sector needs to be built up, not reduced, watered down, stretched or otherwise undermined.

Australian families need to feel confident that their children's best interests are a central consideration. This will not be achieved if anything is taken away from the sector.

Further information

This is our second submission to the Productivity Commission this year as part of this review process and comes in addition to our appearance at the Commission hearings in August.

Over a thousand people contributed to the ASU's survey indicating a significant level of interest in the matter or child care delivery in Australia.

Earlier ASUnews on the review of the child care sector

ASU briefs Federal Opposition on our submission

Read about our visit with Kate Ellis here at Greg McLean's Blog.

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