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Major expansion of child-care places



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Dr Carmen Lawrence Minister for Human Services and Health Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Status of Women

21 February 1996

Major expansion of child-care places

Country families and families with primary school aged children will be the big winners from an expansion of child-care places announced today by the Labor government.

The Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Status of Women Carmen Lawrence and Family Services Minister, Senator Rosemary Crowley said the Labor government would provide extra protection for women in casual employment.

"Labor will ensure that casual workers are not at risk of falling through the award safety net by establishing a public and independent inquiry at the cost of $150,000," Dr Lawrence said.

"Quality affordable child-care is one of the greatest supports the government can provide women balancing work and family responsibilities and women at home needing occasional care for their children," Dr Lawrence said.

"The Government would provide an additional $25 million for 23,000 additional places over the next four years.

"Australia's $1 billion child-care system is one of the best in the world and Labor intends to build on that success. Labor has already funded 288,000 childcare places and is committed to meet the demand for work-related care by 2001."

Senator Crowley said special priority would be given to school aged children. "The big issue for working parents is the safety of their children after school and during school holidays", Senator Crowley said.

"To improve outside school hours care provision, Labor will:

. Provide funding to schools to encourage greater links between primary schools and outside school hours care services with capital grants of $5,000 and recurrent grants of $2,000.

. Create an extra 20,000 new vacation care places; and

. Fast track a further 3,000 outside school hours care places.

"Labor is also conducting a research and a pilot program with 2,000 outside school hours care places, to examine quality, costs, funding models and age-appropriate services. The results will influence future improvements."

Senator Crowley said Labor would also ensure families in country Australia benefit from this growth. "To help women in rural and remote areas Labor will provide an extra 10 mobile child care services to provide work-related and

occasional care, plus play groups; and develop a National Rural Child-care Strategy to be oversighted by the Rural Women's Advisory Committee."

The Minister said Labor would also:

. create an extra 3,000 new family day care places to help meet demand for baby places;

. increase funding to establish more play groups with better support to assist women at home with their children;

. Establish a National Defence Force Family Day Care Scheme on bases around Australia; and

. Open a one stop child-care information service in every state and territory. To be known as the Child-care Switchboard, the service would make it easier for families to find vacant places in their local areas.

"These new measures together with the places already planned will mean an extra 90,000 community based child-care places between 1996 and 2001," Senator Crowley said.

"In total this is 11,000 long day-care places; 15,000 family day care places; 44,000 outside school hours care places; and 20,000 new vacation care places."

Senator Crowley said the coalition released a 23 page child-care document on Sunday, but they forgot to put their policy in it.

"It is not good enough for the opposition simply to propose a child-care review after the election. Women want to know what the coalition is planning."

Dr Lawrence said the Labor Child-care policy was just one element of a comprehensive network of support for women with children. Labor has created a carefully targeted network of support for Australian mothers including the new Maternity Allowance, family leave, Parenting Allowance and the Family Health Rebate." Dr Lawrence said.

"Labor believes the Government has a responsibility to assist Australian women in all their roles. Labor has already achieved significant gains. Education campaigns against domestic violence have achieved significant changes in community attitudes. We have implemented and improved legislation to protect women from discrimination.

"63 per cent of the 1.5 million jobs created in the last 9 years have gone to women and today one third of people working in their own business are women.

"85 per cent of working women now have superannuation and have the financial security in their own right on retirement." Dr Lawrence said these advances had been achieved by working women in the community.

"Women's groups in all their variety have been essential to promoting the role and status of Australian women. Labor will increase financial support to these groups to $1.1 million a year to ensure women's voices continue to be heard.

"To ensure women's voices are heard in the Republican debate a further $100,000 a year will be available for non government women's organisations to

cover activities such as consultation, the preparation of submissions and attendances at conferences.

"It is also important that we ensure the contribution of women in our society is recorded. Too often women have been overlooked or ignored by history.

"To that end a Labor government will provide $0.5 million over two years for 40 traineeships in multi-media for young women to record the contribution of women to our nation in the lead up to the celebration of Australia's Centenary of Federation."

Contact:

Brenda Conroy, 0412 414 782

Kim Robins, 0412 627 465