Page 1827 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 8 June 2022
MS BERRY: I thank Ms Orr for the question. It has been a particularly challenging couple of years for Canberra families, and one of the major cost-of-living challenges is for families with children and their fees. For many families this cost locks them out of accessing important learning at a crucial stage of a child’s development. We all know that education does not kick in just at school. From the moment a child is born their learning journey begins, and early childhood plays a critical role in that. The new federal government, led by Anthony Albanese, has made a series of commitments to reduce the cost of early learning, making it accessible for more families. The federal Labor government is committed to lifting the maximum childcare subsidy rate to 90 per cent for families for the first child in care; to increasing childcare subsidy rates for every family with one child in care earning less than $530,000 in household income; to keeping higher childcare subsidy rates for the second and additional child in care; and to extending the increased subsidy to outside school hours care.
The federal government will also have the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission design a price regulation mechanism to drive out-of-pocket expenses down in the long term. The Productivity Commission will conduct a comprehensive review of the sector, with the aim of implementing a universal 90 per cent subsidy for all families. This will be an approximately $5.4 billion investment, starting from July 2023. The impacts of this commitment will mean that more Canberra families will have access to early learning for their children and will support workforce participation for parents and carers. This will ensure that more children have a great beginning to their life-long education.
MS ORR: Minister, how does the Federal Labor Government’s commitment to cheaper early learning complement ACT government initiatives in this area?
MS BERRY: I thank Ms Orr for the supplementary question. The new federal government has committed to developing and implementing a whole range of government early-years strategies to create a new integrated approach to the early years. The strategy will develop a program of action and develop better outcomes for Australian families. This complements the approach that the ACT government has taken in setting up its own early childhood strategy, Set up for Success. Underpinning the ACT government’s strategy is a commitment to give every child a fair start to life.
No child should miss out on early childhood education because it is not affordable. The ACT government has committed to work towards 15 hours per week, 600 hours per year, of free universal early childhood education for three-year-old children. This commitment is beginning with access for 500 three-year-olds, prioritising children and families most in need, as well as 15 hours per week of Koori preschool for 100 three-year-old Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.
The strategy also importantly recognises the value of early childhood educators as professionals who play a critical role in learning and development outcomes. Actions include developing educator professional standards and providing training to educators to support children affected by trauma. Every child has their own story. Different lived experiences and circumstances shape their stories and impact on their future years. A commitment from both the federal and ACT governments to ensure