Page 4364 - Week 13 - Thursday, 17 November 2005

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(4) Yes, ACT Government does support a mix of providers in the delivery of childcare in the ACT.

(a) Not for profit community organisations are able to lease facilities at a peppercorn rental. In addition, the Government funds capital upgrades to these centres. In the 2004-05 financial year, the Government spent $511,000 on capital upgrades. In 2002, the Government provided funds to build a new centre in Gungahlin, and funded the expansion of ACT government owned centres throughout 2003-04 to provide additional child care places. We are currently finalising the plans to rebuild the Weston Creek Child Care Centre that was destroyed by fire in 2003.

(b) Private providers are able to purchase land and build centres, Children’s Services staff provide advice on the design of centres and provide ongoing advice and guidance to ensure the services meet the required conditions. There are currently two private centres under construction, one at Conder due to open in November 2005 and the other at Symonston due to open in January 2006.

(5) Yes the ACT Government released in February 2003 research undertaken in relation to workforce issues in the child care sector. In 2002, my Government commissioned the report to gather evidence in relation to the recruitment and retention of child care staff within the ACT.

The report titled Australian Capital Territory, Child care Workforce Planning Project – 2002 was released in February 2003. The report contained recommendations related to training, recruitment and retention of staff in children’s services.

The report highlighted a number of areas for action that need to be addressed by the Australian Government, employers and training institutions. I have written to these organisations making them aware of the report’s recommendations and seeking their support.

As a result of the recommendations, negotiation by Community Health Works with Training and Adult Education and Vocational Education and Training Authority have seen a more flexible delivery of training, with an increase in New Apprenticeships commencements in children’s services at a Diploma level. New Apprenticeships employer incentive payments are now available to employers of ‘existing workers’ undertaking a qualification of more than two years duration. Previously, existing workers have not been eligible for new apprenticeship.

The low status of child care professionals and the low pay rates has been addressed to an extent by the recent application by the Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union in applying to the Industrial Relations Commission for an increase in the Child Care Award.

Ongoing consultation through regular meetings with the children’s services sector provides opportunity to remain informed of workforce issues within the sector.

In 2003, the Childrens Services Working Group of the Community Services Ministers Advisory Council (CSMAC) were provided funding to undertake a National Project to examine approaches to National Workforce issues. A national survey was distributed to 100,000 services across Australia in September 2004 and the report is currently being finalised. A preliminary report was presented to CSMAC in October 2005. It is anticipated that this report will lead to further recommendations and strategies related to the retention, recruitment and training of staff working in the sector.

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