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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 5 Hansard (8 May) . . Page.. 1323 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

I am certainly going to encourage all child-care professionals and interested community members to participate in this inquiry. It is an important piece of work that focuses on an issue which has been left alone for far too long by previous ACT governments and national governments: recruiting and retaining effective staff in child-care centres.

Mr Speaker, the government will be supporting Ms Dundas' motion. I table a copy of my press statement and the attached terms of reference for the ACT child-care staffing project. I present the following papers:

Child care-A.C.T. Child Care Staffing Project-

Media release by the Minister for Education, Youth and Family Services, dated 8 May 2002.

Terms of Reference.

MR SPEAKER: There is a bit of a competition developing here to see who can get the loudest cry from a child in the gallery. Ms Dundas wins so far. Mr Corbell is running a close second. Mr Cornwell, try your luck.

MR CORNWELL (3.47): I thank Mr Corbell for tabling the terms of reference. Naturally, I have not read them yet, but I hope they will address the unmet care needs in the ACT.

Accurate, up-to-date information is not easy to obtain. I had a look at the Department of Education and Community Services annual report for last year and all I saw was that the Office of Child Care licensed 227 children's services. However, they included things other than child-care facilities.

I do not lay blame for my difficulty in finding information. The demand is constantly increasing and shifting. The biggest pressure is probably in Gungahlin, having moved over from Tuggeranong. It is also doubling back into older suburbs. Mr Corbell mentioned his own situation. I know that O'Connor and a few other places are having a resurgence of young people moving in and therefore young families. It is very much a moveable feast.

It is often very inconvenient for parents to travel out of their way to place their children in child-care facilities. These difficulties are now being compounded by staffing problems due to low salaries and serious perceived, real or imagined-I am not competent to judge-shortfalls in what people see as experienced workers, who, reasonably or not, are not prepared to accept low rates of pay. This is quite unsettling for parents who are putting their children into child-care facilities.

The difficulties are also being compounded by increasing demand from two-income families, which are now the norm as a result of changes in social aspirations and the reasonable wish to enjoy the financial benefits of the economic boom resulting from

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