Page 305 - Week 01 - Thursday, 17 February 2011

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incident back in February 2010, and there were letters exchanged between the human rights commissioner and the department on that and we have certainly improved our practice. It was mentioned in a report to me around a number of things around April 2010 and also within that same briefing it was seen that the commissioner was satisfied with our response.


Discussion of matter of public importance

MR ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Mr Hargreaves): Mr Speaker has received letters from Ms Bresnan, Mr Coe, Mr Doszpot, Mrs Dunne, Mr Hanson, Ms Hunter, Ms Le Couteur, Mr Seselja and Mr Smyth proposing that matters of public importance be submitted to the Assembly. In accordance with standing order 79, Mr Speaker has determined that the matter proposed by Mr Doszpot be submitted to the Assembly, namely:

Childcare in the ACT.

MR DOSZPOT (Brindabella) (3.01): Thank you, Mr Assistant Speaker, for the opportunity to speak on this matter of public importance—childcare in the ACT. This is a relevant topic. Often times, the severity of the acute need for childcare is not fully appreciated unless you are one of the many thousands that rely on the availability and stability of childcare services, In fact, for many families, the loss of childcare services is no different from losing reliable daily transportation. I would add that any increase in childcare costs is no different from having to pay more for electricity or water.

In the present society that we live in, the constant reality here is that any disruption or shortage of childcare services leads to a disruption in the daily lives of our families as they desperately find themselves being forced to juggle between home and work obligations. In my capacity as the shadow minister for disability, I am all too aware of the important need to have a reliable carer service available.

Without such services being available, many a two-income houseold are forced into becoming a one-income family that has to live off a single pay cheque. This predicament is further exacerbated for one-income families needing childcare support. The concern that some of these families might have—that their lives might have to change due to this—is a pertinent and growing concern within our community. Another illustration of this growing concern in the community relates to childcare support in school holidays where, with both parents working, one parent has to seek leave for up to 12 weeks each year to cope with these occasions. It is not our role in this Assembly to tell people how to live. That said, we must be keenly aware of the vicious cycle effects of these costs to families and the overall loss of productivity in our workforce.

For many years now, we in the ACT have had the highest median cost of centre-based long day care, at $345 per week, not to mention the highest median cost of family day care, at $315 per week. This is higher than the Australian average by $60 per week and $45 per week respectively. According to the recent report on government services, in 2009-10 there were approximately 11,245 children aged under five and 5,469

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