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Fears child care programs may be unworkable after inadequate consultation

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FEARS CHILD CARE PROGRAMS MAY BE UNWORKABLE AFTER INADEQUATE CONSULTATION Senator Skye Kakoschke-Moore says she fears programs under the Government’s Jobs for Families Child Care Package Bill may be unworkable and a number of families will be left without appropriate services due to a lack of appropriate consultation during the development of the package. She made the criticisms following release of the Senate Committee report into the Bill tabled early Monday evening.

Senator Kakoschke-Moore said the Education and Employment Legislation Committee inquiring into the Bill heard evidence that important stakeholders were not invited to be part of the initial reference group during the consultation period.

“When questioned about the number of Indigenous organisations involved in the consultation process the Department of Education was unable to name a single organisation and the response from the Department on this issue appears to be quite unsatisfactory,” she said.

“Rather than seizing the opportunity to reform early childhood education and care (ECEC) with appropriate stakeholder engagement the Government conceded it has not communicated ‘as often or as much as they should have with providers and with families’.

“This failure must be addressed and I urge the Department of Education to review their consultation procedures to ensure all appropriate stakeholder groups are comprehensively consulted when reform packages are being developed.”

In the Committee's report, Senator Kakoschke-Moore in her ‘additional comments’, also stated the NXT is concerned the child care reforms will only go ahead if savings from cuts to family tax benefits are achieved.

“Affordable early childhood education and care should not be contingent upon the Government passing Family Tax Benefit Savings measures,” she said. “ECEC is integral to the health and wellbeing of Australian children and I encourage the Government to recognise this.”

“The NXT also recognises the importance of programs such as in-home care and Budget Based Funding in meeting the needs of the most vulnerable children and families. The Government needs to urgently clarify whether the funding for in-home care and the services currently funded through BBF will continue if the Bill is passed.”

Senator Kakoschke-Moore also recommended:

 the Department consult further with stakeholders regarding the suitability of the proposal for 15 hours of care for low income families that do not meet the activity test and the impact this will have on business models of ECEC providers; and

 conduct modelling on the impact 15 hours of subsidised ECEC would have on childcare workers’ workforce participation.

The full report can be found here.

For more information contact Karina Natt 0433 620 850