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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 03 Hansard (Thursday, 23 March 2017) . . Page.. 1035 ..

whole population, and make the city more livable for all, not only the seniors cohort.

The biggest problem facing seniors is that policymakers have not realised the full potential for this cohort to contribute to the territory. Nor have they sought to exploit to a significant degree the talents available. Many seniors are interested in working and are available to continue working or to offer their skills and experience on a voluntary basis, but they need encouragement and recognition rather than being pigeonholed into the category of a burdensome group needing the support of younger taxpayers.

It is time to show more respect for the contributions of Canberra’s seniors community, both during this week when it is brought again to our attention but also beyond.

Child care—funding

MR STEEL (Murrumbidgee) (5.17): As we adjourn today, the Senate is debating the Family Assistance Legislation Amendment (Jobs for Families Child Care Package) Bill 2016. This package affects 28,230 children who attend child care here in the ACT across some 379 approved childcare services. It will have a significant effect on how children can access early learning in this territory.

Child care is not just about workforce participation; it is about the early learning benefits for children. We know it amplifies children’s learning, their educational outcomes and their socio-emotional outcomes.

This will have a significant impact on their participation and their ability to get better outcomes in the future. A family with one parent not working may receive no subsidised access to child care as a result of these measures. Not one minute. And children do not have any access in their own right to early childhood education or child care. That is because of an activity test which requires both parents to be working to receive subsidies.

We have heard from some of the senators today who are wavering on this issue, particularly the Nick Xenophon Team. My message is to them: don’t sell our children; don’t support this lie in relation to activity tests and how it will be funded.

We know that children benefit when they get access to 15 hours. That research has been done through the effective provision of preschool study, which tracked children from when they attended child care right through to when they completed their GCSEs at the end of school. We know that 15 hours benefits all children, but disadvantaged children need even more than that. They benefit from up to 30 hours, because they are not getting those vital early learning experiences in the home. This package would see only 12 hours provided for families earning under $65,710 and some families receiving nothing at all. That is not good for children.

My appeal is to Senator Kakoschke-Moore, Senator Griff, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, and Senator Xenophon: don’t support this package, at least in relation to the 12 hours provided as the minimum level under the activity test; make sure that

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