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Childcare: neglected orphan of the election campaign



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news release Embargo: 5am Tuesday 27 August 2013

Childcare: neglected orphan of the election campaign United Voice, the early childhood union, warned parents today that very large childcare fee increases and out of pocket expenses are inevitable if Australia has a change of Government after the 7 September election.

The warning follows a meeting of parents and educators with the Coalition’s spokesperson on Childcare and Early Childhood Learning, Sussan Ley in Albury on Monday.

Michael Crosby, National President of United Voice, the early childhood union says “There is a very real risk that childcare quality and affordability for parents could be casualties of the 2013 election.

“Parents and early childhood educators report that the meeting with Sussan Ley was very concerning.

“Under a Tony Abbott government parents can expect to be hit with extra costs because of the:  refusal of the Coalition to contribute to any pay increase to early childhood educators from the Big Steps Equal Pay case currently before the Fair Work Commission;  refusal to support or promise the extension of the $300 million Early Years Quality Fund; and  extension of the Child Care Rebate to cover nannies and au pairs.

“The Big Steps Equal Pay case is highly likely to see an increase to educators’ wages. The Coalition has absolutely refused to fund any outcome of the case. Parents will have to pick up that cost. Parents can expect fees to increase from 10% to 25% on current average fees of $74.80 per day.

“Additional increases will be inevitable when the Early Years Quality Fund stops operating in 2015. The Fund provides $300 million funding for professional wages for educators until 2015 as a first step towards long overdue professional wages in the sector. The Coalition has made it clear that it does not support the fund.

“The Coalition’s likely extension of the Child Care Rebate to nannies and au pairs would mean a cut of at least $390 million in funding for long day care. The Rebate is an already stretched resource for parents. Stripping 21% from it and refusing to increase funding for parents would only lead to an increase in out of pocket expenses for parents using centre based care.

“All of these extra costs to parents would be on top of ‘normal’ and regular increases caused by other operating costs, such as rent, overheads, etc,” says Michael Crosby.

Speaking after Monday’s meeting with Sussan Ley, Alice Tzannes, a mother of two children in long day care, says “It’s time for Tony Abbott to let us know what his plans are for early childhood education and care for our children.

“Tony Abbott’s focus on paid parental leave overlooks the real hardship parents face until children begin school. For parents, affordable, high quality childcare is critical to ensuring mothers can return to the workforce.

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“Only in this way can parents have any hope of getting back into the workforce, secure in the knowledge that our children are safe and well cared for by a team of adequately paid professional educators.

“Parents, educators and providers need to know that Tony Abbott is committed to:  high quality and education-focussed childcare, through the full implementation of the National Quality Framework on its current timetable; and  affordable childcare for families, with funding for professional wages and by ensuring that changes to the

scope of the Child Care Rebate do not increase long day care costs for parents.

“We need to know his response before we vote,” says Alice Tzannes.

Parents can get more information and sign the open letter to Tony Abbott at childcarecosts.com.au

Contact: Nada Vlatko - 0425 242 691

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