Labor-endorsed candidate for Bendigo, Lisa Chesters, today said that the announcement by the Coalition for a Productivity Commission review of childcare highlights their lack of understanding of the current childcare sector crisis Bendigo families are facing.
“The industry is in crisis with a third of educators leaving the sector every year. High staff turnover puts the intellectual, emotional and social development of our children at risk. Further, this crisis creates an acute training and skills shortage in the sector as new educators cannot be trained fast enough to replace the ones who are leaving the sector.
“I support the call from parents, educators and the sector for professional wages, without slugging parents, for the professional work our dedicated childcare educators do. If we don’t want to slug parents, governments need to increase funding for the sector.
“This is clearly something the Coalition is not even willing to consider as their Productivity Commission terms of reference explicitly states that the review will occur ‘within existing funding parameters’.
“I am proud that the Gillard Government is investing record amounts into the early childhood sector. The Gillard Labor Government has increased the Child Care Rebate from 30 per cent under the previous Coalition government to 50 per cent of all approved out-of-pocket child care expenses up to a maximum of $7500 per child per year.
“As a result of the Labor Government’s increase to the Child Care Rebate, since 2004, out-of-pocket costs for families earning $75,000 have reduced from 13 per cent of their disposable income to 7 per cent in 2011.
“However, I believe there is still more work to be done. I agree with the workforce, centres and parents. The solution to the problem in the childcare sector is clear – invest in the educators who deliver high quality education and care without increasing costs to parents. That is why we need to increase funding to the sector.
“Tony Abbott’s announcement will also undermine the National Quality Framework, which ensures there are strong standards to protect our young children and guarantees a high quality of care in Australia’s 6,000 childcare centres, including centres in Bendigo.
“The Opposition’s plans to consider scrapping the Government’s new quality and assistance measures and wind back new national standards would drive up the cost of child care and bring down the standard of care and education for each child,” Ms Chesters said.
“Abbott's review will only delay any action on child care for years. It’s yet another example of
why Bendigo families cannot risk the election of an Abbott Coalition Government.”