Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 5 Hansard (8 May) . . Page.. 1326 ..
MS TUCKER (continuing):
families and children at risk or under stress, it is also very important as time out and respite.
I welcome this debate. The issues are more complex than just the structure of the industry and salaries, important as that is. There are broader issues of access and trying to compensate for federal government policy, which is quite inadequate and has to be mentioned in any debate in this place about the children of our community.
MRS DUNNE (4.00): Although the tenor of the debate is important, I would like to reinforce that not all child care takes place in a centre-based environment. A very valuable sector of child care in the ACT is family day care.
Unlike Ms Tucker, I have had nothing but positive experiences of child care in the ACT, but perhaps I am a rare bird in that. Over 21 years I have used family day care and have had three carers for my five children. Those people have always made a significant contribution to the way our family runs. That is the case with most people who use family day care. There is no denying that, for vast proportions of the population, high-quality, appropriate care for children is essential to the running of a family.
I welcome this investigation to find ways to better address the needs of people whose needs are not being met. I am one of the fortunate few whose needs have always been more than adequately met by the child-care system.
I would like to reinforce the point Ms Tucker made that child care is not being valued enough because it is considered women's work. As a mother, like many people, I am concerned that one of the most valuable things we can do in our lives we subcontract to somebody else to do so that we can get on and do other things. We might subcontract our child care but often we do not subcontract our ironing. That says a lot about our priorities in life.
As Ms Tucker said, we need to continue to value the contribution people make to child care so that people providing child care are esteemed. At the moment they are not. There is low esteem, and that follows low remuneration. We cannot address the issues of access and meeting people's full child-care needs until we address remuneration.
MR SMYTH (4.03): As already stated, the opposition will be agreeing with the motion. It is timely. We welcome the fact that the minister has already put together a review, and we look forward to seeing the terms of reference for that review.
I think all will agree with what everybody has said here today. I have the honour of having been a child-care worker. My former wife and I practised family day care at our house and I was an accredited co-care worker. I can testify to the difficulties that face parents in searching for accommodation for their children while they go off to work or do other things they want to do. From the carers' perspective, I am aware of the need for standards, education, back-up and support to make sure that what child carers do for children when they are very young is seen as the important function it is. Child-care