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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 10 Hansard (Thursday, 17 September 2015) . . Page.. 3182 ..

That is why I am happy to support the calls in the motion to work with the Australian government to ensure any changes to early childhood education and care policy allow all families to access affordable and high quality early childhood education and to support the early childhood education and care sector to ensure all Canberra families have access to affordable, high quality services.

To achieve these goals, the sector and the ACT government need to have a clear and consistent dialogue with their federal counterparts and, sadly, that seems to be lacking on nearly every major funding announcement or reform direction to date. I can only hope the new Prime Minister will see fit to listen to the early childcare sector, acknowledge the clear consensus for funding in this sector and provide a more sustainable and fair approach in the next budget. I will be supporting this motion from Minister Burch.

MS FITZHARRIS (Molonglo) (11.44): I thank Minister Burch very much for introducing this important motion today and in particular for the fantastic announcement this morning of the full 15 hours of preschool education in our public schools for 2016; I will return in a moment to some discussion about that particular announcement this morning.

As a mum of three young children, I know just how important it is for government to support our early childhood sector and make it easier for parents to access high quality early childhood education and care. Affordable, quality child care has become an integral part of our modern economy and our everyday lives, and family day care in particular has an important place in our community. It offers families a flexible childcare option in the home and gives children a wonderful opportunity to socialise, learn and grow in a family home environment.

As we have heard from Minister Burch, thousands of families use family day care every day in this city. It is a vital part of our early childhood education and care sector, and perhaps most importantly, unlike nannies, it is regulated and supported through the essential national quality framework. This framework guarantees the qualifications and quality of early childhood educators. Research shows higher qualified educators improve outcomes for children. A highly qualified early childhood education and care workforce is essential for providing a strong foundation for the health and educational development of Canberra’s children.

It is therefore a real shame that the federal government seems to think that cutting family day care is a good idea, although it really should not be a surprise when you consider how terrible the then Abbott government’s first budget was. Remember that one, Madam Deputy Speaker? It was a doozy and it was probably the beginning of the end really—so no surprise that amongst many cuts it included cuts to child care and family day care.

The peak body, Family Day Care Australia, said at the time that the cuts would impact more than 80 per cent of family day care services. Under the changes in that budget, the department of education would terminate all community support program contracts for family day care approved services, as the minister has noted. So how did

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