Page 1375 - Week 05 - Tuesday, 9 April 2013

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The Greens believe that people working in the childcare sector should be fairly remunerated for the work they do. Our federal colleagues have consistently called for an immediate increase in the pay rate for childcare workers and the phasing in of much larger increases to reflect the skill level required in, and importance of, childcare work.

We know that it is not always possible to have control over childcare costs as there are some agencies that operate more on a business or corporate basis. The government is limited in what it can do in this regard. However, it can help ensure that the regulatory burden for childcare providers—necessarily imposed to ensure the standards around health and safety are addressed—is not too severe and does not result in higher costs which are then passed on to families.

The ACT government do have a role in working with their federal counterparts to do whatever is possible to bring costs associated with the high demand and the childcare industry skill shortages down. I acknowledge the work of government to date in trying to support new childcare places, the construction of new facilities and the ACT’s implementation of childcare certification for new and existing workers.

In the ACT, access to child care in locations which enable families to drop off and pick up their children in line with their work and family demands is essential. The Greens are committed to both the long-term sustainability of the sector and to providing more childcare spaces for our growing city. We are supportive of the government’s policy to build more publicly funded community-based and not-for-profit childcare facilities. There has continued to be growth in the childcare sector over the last decade as we try to keep up with growing demand. However, it is clear that the ACT needs to plan these centres strategically and in accordance with population movements and areas of greatest need.

It is also important that the ACT government ensures these childcare centres are afforded some security of accommodation so that childcare providers can offer security and stability to their staff and the parents using their services. It is difficult for centres to make commitments to families about services for the future when the long-term viability of the accommodation of the childcare centre, play school or preschool may be under threat.

On the matter of suitable accommodation, the issue of accommodation for playgroups is another that the Greens are well aware of, and the concern of ACT playgroups that one of their largest impediments to running playgroups across the ACT is a lack of safe, accessible and affordable venues. This was a key focus for the Greens in the term of the last Assembly. I would urge the relevant government agencies to take consideration of this difficulty in accessing community space in their infrastructure planning, particularly in the growth areas of Molonglo and Gungahlin in my own electorate.

One area of child care that is not as often included in the debate is that of family day care. Family day care can provide a unique role in the continuum of childcare services—the provision of care in a home-based setting that suits many families and

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