Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 10 Hansard (Thursday, 17 September 2015) . . Page.. 3173 ..

However, it seems the new criteria have meant all services have had to reapply for this funding with no guarantee that it will be forthcoming. As I understand it, no ACT providers are eligible for this funding under the new criteria. This could result in significant funding cuts locally. For example, Communities@Work could see a reduction of half a million dollars. The loss of this support will mean the cost of family day care will increase for these families.

Compare this tightening of criteria and cuts to funding with the announcement of the nannies pilot program by the federal government. The federal government has announced a $246 million program which will fund 4,000 nannies over two years. What we know about this program is that the Australian government will not require the people caring for children under this arrangement to meet any of the current requirements of the national quality framework. In particular, they will not even need to hold a minimum qualification on early childhood care. There will be no guarantee that quality education and care is being provided. The policy is, indeed, inconsistent with the objectives of the national quality framework and it is not supported by the ACT government.

We believe there are other solutions for families that need that flexibility. We recognise the need for flexibility with some professions and families’ employment, such as nurses, police officers, ambulance officers, firefighters—those that provide essential services and are committed to shift work for employment—but we believe there are other ways. That flexibility could be built into existing services, like family day care, that are regulated now through the national quality framework and that have been supporting families for decades.

It is important that the national quality framework continues to be the cornerstone for providing early childhood education and care in Australia. Better qualified educators are more likely to provide a rich learning environment and develop responsive, respectful relationships with children in education and care settings. All Australian governments continue to be committed to the national quality framework and there continues to be strong support for the framework from providers themselves.

It is important for our community and our families that they have the quality education and care that is accessible and affordable and meets the needs of working families, hence my announcement today. The ACT government has, for a long time, been working to ensure that all families have access to affordable and high quality education and care. In fact, we have been working hard since 2001 to ensure the sector continues to grow both in terms of education and care places and also quality. There has been a 95 per cent growth in the number of long day care places, including an anticipated additional 1,200 places in the 12 months from October last year through to the end of this year.

Additional places continue to come online as a result of $13.3 million set aside for infrastructure in the last four budgets. Extensions and upgrades to 10 education and care centres have been completed, with a further three under construction and one out to market for tender. Other facilities have also been refurbished to bring them up to

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video