Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 09 Hansard (Thursday, 26 August 2010) . . Page.. 4047 ..
Childcare—national quality standard
MR SMYTH: My question is to the Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services. Minister, I refer you to the Access Economics report entitled An analysis of the proposed ECEC national quality agenda, published in July 2009. The report states that only 28 per cent of childcare for under two-year-olds in the ACT meets the new national quality standard. Can you confirm for the Assembly that this figure is the lowest in the country along with Tasmania?
MS BURCH: My advice on the number of centres that meet the under two ratio has been 25 per cent. I know that all of our centres for children over that age meet the COAG requirements.
MR SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Smyth?
MR SMYTH: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Minister, given that the report states that the ACT has the lowest percentage of any state or territory of childcare for under-two-year-olds that will meet the criteria, what assistance is being provided by the ACT government to providers to ensure they can implement the reforms by the end of 2011?
MS BURCH: As I think I have said a number of times, the CPRU, the regulation unit, has ongoing discussions with childcare providers. The children’s services group is in there and, in fact, I have written to every childcare provider in the ACT, saying that I will work with them around transition. I have assured them that my door is always open to their concerns. I will work with each and every childcare centre, so that they do move forward to meeting the requirements that commence in 2012. That is right: the ratios are for 2012. That is the start date. The qualification start date is 2014. I think, if you read through the Access Economics report, you would find that the ACT is indeed well positioned to meet those requirements. But, that aside, I know that this government and our unit will indeed work with the sector and work closely with the sector to ensure that we meet those standards.
MRS DUNNE: A supplementary question, Mr Speaker.
MR SPEAKER: Yes, Mrs Dunne.
MRS DUNNE: Minister, what policy mechanisms do you have in place to support families, given that a large percentage of the ACT’s under-twos will be affected by this? What policies do you have in place to support families who will be facing higher childcare costs, and especially low income earners, who pay a large proportion of their disposable income on childcare?
MS BURCH: This government will work with all childcare providers and work with them so they meet the requirements. The federal government has invested moneys in the transition support and the ACT has benefited from that with over $600,000 to help with that support. We have increased our capacity within the regulation unit to work with services. We have a history of supporting services in minor capital works development. That will continue. We have invested $4 million to support two