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Minister discusses new rules using PIN numbers to pick up children from child-care facilities.



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AM

 

Fri day 2 June 2006

Minister discusses new rules using PIN numbers to pick up children from child-care facilities

 

TONY EASTLEY: Parents and other carers will need a pin num ber or swipe card to pick up their child from childcare under a plan that's just been approved by Federal Cabinet. 

 

Within two years, all centres, including home based childcare facilities, will have to be linked to the new system if they want to be eligible for the Child Care Benefit. 

 

The Minister for Family and Community Services Mal Brough says getting parents to clock their children in and out will also stop unscrupulous centres claiming for places that aren't being used. 

 

Mal Brough has been speaking to Gillian Bradford in Canberra. 

 

MAL BROUGH: It will be important. It's also a great security tool for parents. They'll know who's got children, where they are and who's taking them, or putting them into centres, and who's taking them out. 

 

GILLIAN BRADFORD: How many childcare operators do you think are trying to defraud the system, are inflating the number of hours or number of children in their care? 

 

MAL BROUGH: Well, I put it a different way and say that if there's anyone that is, who's doing the wrong thing by the Australian taxpayer, we spend nearly $10 billion over four years on childcare and every dollar of that should go to a quality childcare place. 

 

And I just want all childcare providers, no matter who they are or where they are, to understand that we won't tolerate it and we intend to ensure that that money goes where it's intended.  

 

GILLIAN BRADFORD: So what's the most likely model for this? Is it going to be a swipe card or a pin number? 

 

MAL BROUGH: Ah, we'll let the market tell us that. The early advice is that swipe cards tend to be lost and that pin numbers, you can have an individual one for anybody that's entitled to pick the child up, so a mum, a dad, an uncle might all have different pin numbers, so you actually know who's picked that child up, and it's dealt with in a very secure fashion. 

 

And of course, whilst we all tend to lose things in our mind occasionally, it's less likely to be lost there than if it's a swipe card, so I would suggest that's the most likely scenario.  

 

GILLIAN BRADFORD: Now your Government is opening up much more childcare within homes. Are they going to have to be linked to this system?  

 

MAL BROUGH: Look, ultimately, our aim is to have all outside of school hours and daycare mums, which are the in-home type care, to be linked up and operating so that we have the best information right across the board. 

 

GILLIAN BRADFORD: Is it going to be compulsory for them to be linked up? 

 

MAL BROUGH: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, the point here is that if you want to access Child Care Benefit, and that the parents who are eligible for it, then you are going to have to be able to use this computerized system. 

 

If you want to operate a childcare centre without the subsidies that the Federal Government provides to parents, then that's your right to do so without the electronic system.  

 

GILLIAN BRADFORD: Is that going to be too costly, though, for some people trying to start up from home? 

 

MAL BROUGH: No. We are certainly modelling that we'll be able to provide the necessary hardware and equipment that's needed for those centres that aren't… that aren't computerised at the moment, and that we believe that there are cost effective ways to be able to provide this sort of technology down to very small outside of school hours care and family day care operators. 

 

GILLIAN BRADFORD: Now eventually, probably by 2009 is the time frame for a smart card, would eventually a system like this be linked up with that smartcard?  

 

MAL BROUGH: Ah, I couldn't say. I'm not an IT expert, but clearly we are mindful of what's happening out there in the human services area. That's a major step forward. It will be looked at, but I couldn't give you any clearer advice.  

 

GILLIAN BRADFORD: And is two years a realistic time frame for this? 

 

MAL BROUGH: Well, again, that's what we're advised by people who understand the technology and what is required here, and I certainly believe it is. We intend to be public with what we need form the market in the very near future. 

 

TONY EASTLEY: The Minister for Family and Community Services, Mal Brough, ending that report by Gillian Bradford.