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(generated from captions) But first may have had a point Federal Liberal MP Jackie Kelly the childcare system when she said she believes who don't use it. is designed by people and while its all good and well Childcare is a now essential service, to build more centres, workers a shortage of qualified child-care for centre managers. is an ongoing problem the stress of that, Cathy Onstenk would know all about in the ACT, an experienced childcare worker

mother of five.. Labor Senator for the ACT - Welcome ladies. things at your childcare centre? Now Cathy, just how stretched are as the national press seem to think. At present not as stretched perhaps there is a waiting list, Certainly in the under-3s area

small waiting list at the moment. but our over-3s has only a very be childcare workers, Now the big issue for you would centre and attracting keeping good people at your people leave. good people as well when Is it a problem? Absolutely. in the last 12 months We've spent thousands of dollars qualified staff, advertising for particularly response. and getting very little

still vacant. One of those positions is people from interstate. We have in fact been employing difficult. So yes it is quite in childcare yourself. Kate Lundy, you've got kids your kids a spot? Was it tough for you getting daughter, Look I've got a 14 year old 2 years for a place and I have memories of waiting years ago, in a centre for her many

really only got a spot for my but also more recently he was very young now 4 year old son when I had with my childcare centre. because of the relationship many parents, So I think that's typical of right place at the right time you've gotta be lucky, in the that you need, to secure the childcare miss out, otherwise you just work. and that means you can't much emphasis on affordability Do you think we're putting too and accessibility, about what working mums and dads and that maybe we're not thinking really need, Kate? accessibility are other problems, I think affordability and parents look at their options and what is happening is that for work, and childcare, balancing their working time it's too much can't find a place or to work because of wages, and not worth them going back system now. look at the industrial relation be pushed down. Wages are going to more vicious circle Parents are going to be in a than they have been before, so they the issues, but I agree, I don't think the government really looks at what parents are really looking for and their needs. I was reading in Sweden that mums and dads with kids under the age of 8 can work a 6 hour day. Is that a solution? Are we not really looking at the policy,

and that maybe we should be looking more towards employers being more flexible, would you agree? I think so, I think employers could be doing a lot more, but again the industrial relations policies, the welfare to work policies of the Howard government are moving in the opposite direction to these sorts of arrangements. I think parents will be forced to work longer for less, that puts even greater pressure on already tight spots and long lists at child care centres,

and affordability stays at a very high list. I think costs in childcare centres have gone up by 50% in the last 3 or 4 years. Well its around 14 thousand dollars a year that you pay for one child in daycare. That's right, you've got to earn a lot of money for that to be possible. Cathy, if you ran the world, where would you start with the system? What would be the major change? The major change would be to reduce the ratios. More staff to less children, particularly in the under-3s area, particularly in the babies. I would recommend one staff member to every 3 children. The ratios also in our preschool groups are 1:11, 1 to 9 or 10, or even 8 would be ideal. Particularly given that there are so many children in our centres now whose parents are so stressed, the casualisation of the work force has meant that there are more children to each place, we have 62 places but we actually cater for more than 120 children. And we are getting some more centres in the ACT,

but really if we get more centres we've got to staff those centres with good people, that's the challenge. Yes, that's right, so yes in order to have the ideal ratios we need to have the staff, particularly trained and qualified staff, and that requires a huge input of money. Parents cannot afford the kinds of fees that that requires. So it really does need to have an increase in childcare benefit. I'll have to leave it there, but perhaps more mothers in parliament might be a good idea. Thank you so much Cathy and Kate appreciate your time today. Well, Brokeback Mountain is being described