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Education and Employment - House of Representatives Standing Committee Advisory report on the Early Years Quality Fund Special Account Bill 2013 Report, incorporating a dissenting report, June 2013


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The Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia

Advisory Report Early Years Quality Fund Special Account Bill 2013

House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education and Employment

June 2013 Canberra

© Commonwealth of Australia 2013

ISBN 978-1-74366-090-4 (Printed version)

ISBN 978-1-74366-091-1 (HTML version)

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License.

The details of this licence are available on the Creative Commons website: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/au/.

Contents

Membership of the Committee ............................................................................................................ v

Terms of reference ............................................................................................................................. vii

List of recommendations ..................................................................................................................... ix

THE R EPO RT

1 Early Years Quality Fund Special Account Bill 2013 ........................................ 1

Overview of the bill ................................................................................................................... 1

Policy objective ........................................................................................................................... 2

Operation of the fund .................................................................................................................. 3

Conduct of the inquiry .............................................................................................................. 4

Stakeholder involvement ............................................................................................................. 5

Issues raised during inquiry .................................................................................................... 5

Support for the Bill ....................................................................................................................... 5

Opposition to the Bill ................................................................................................................... 6

Claims relating to requisite union membership ............................................................................ 6

Committee comment ................................................................................................................. 8

AP PE NDI CE S

Appendix A - Submissions ..................................................................................... 11

Appendix B - Witnesses and public hearing ......................................................... 15

iv

Thursday, 6 June 2013 - Canberra ......................................................................................... 15

DIS SE NTI NG REPO RT

Dissenting Report—Rowan Ramsey MP, Karen Andrews MP, Alan Tudge MP .............................................................................................................. 17

Inequity .................................................................................................................................... 18

United Voice Union ................................................................................................................. 18

Wage Claims ............................................................................................................................ 19

Conclusion .............................................................................................................................. 19

Membership of the Committee

Chair Mr Mike Symon MP

Deputy Chair Mr Rowan Ramsey MP

Members Mrs Karen Andrews MP

The Hon Chris Bowen MP

Ms Deborah O’Neill MP

Mr Graham Perrett MP

Mr Alan Tudge MP

vi

Committee Secretariat

Secretary Glenn Worthington

Inquiry Secretary Siobhán Leyne

Senior Research Officer Lauren Wilson

Administrative Officers Daniel Miletic

Emily Costello

Terms of reference

On 30 May 2013, the House of Representatives Selection Committee referred the Early Years Quality Fund Special Account Bill 2013 for inquiry and report.

List of recommendations

1 Early Years Quality Fund Special Account Bill 2013 Recommendation 1

The Committee recommends that the House of Representatives pass the Early Years Quality Fund Special Account Bill 2013.

1

Early Years Quality Fund Special Account Bill 2013

Overview of the bill

1.1 The Early Years Quality Fund Special Account Bill 2013 (the Bill) establishes a Special Account1 to administer the Early Years Quality Fund (the Fund).2 The Bill provides for $300 million to be credited to the Fund over two years.3

1.2 The Fund will provide financial assistance to approved early childcare services to be used exclusively for paying remuneration and other employment-related costs and expenses.4

1.3 The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) will administer the Fund in line with government practice in the administration of grants’ programs.5

1.4 All long day care centres approved for Child Care Benefit under the New Tax System (Family Assistance) Act 1999 will be eligible to apply for

1 A special account is an appropriation mechanism hat allocates an amount within the Consolidated Revenue Fund to be expended for a specific purpose. Section 21 of the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 provides that a special account may be established by legislation, with monies expended only for specified purposes as outlined in the originating legislation.

2 Early Years Quality Fund Special Account Bill 2013, clause 5. 3 Early Years Quality Fund Special Account Bill 2013, clause 6. 4 Early Years Quality Fund Special Account Bill 2013, clause 7. 5 Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR), Submission 56,

p. 6.

2 EARLY YEARS QUALITY FUND SPECIAL ACCOUNT BILL 2013

funding.6 It appears that any person who operates or proposes to operate a long day care centre may apply for Child Care Benefit approval through DEEWR by meeting the published criteria including: the suitability of ownership and staff to operate a child care service; approval under local law to operate; at least 48 weeks operation a year; and minimum opening hours of at least 8 continuous hours each day of operation.7

1.5 As both for-profit and not-for-profit service providers are eligible to apply for Child Care Benefit, both are eligible to apply for funding.8 DEEWR advised that 7,000 centres are eligible under these criteria,9 and includes an estimated 78,647 workers.10

Policy objective 1.6 The policy objective of the Fund is to attract and retain qualified professionals working in the early childhood sector.11 DEEWR reported concern amongst the sector regarding turnover rates, as well as the

attraction and retention of early childhood educators. It is anticipated that high wages will have a positive impact on attracting and retaining qualified employees in the sector and increasing the professionalism overall.12

1.7 DEEWR submitted that decreasing the turnover rates of educators will assist with providing children with the opportunity for more consistent interactions.13 The link between higher retention rates and improved educational outcomes was also explained:

A key component of quality education is the opportunity for quality interaction between educator and child. Children develop attachments to their educators which enhances their education and care experience. This requires trust and consistent social interactions to be established between educator and child and recognises that each child is unique with nuanced relationship

6 The Hon, Peter Garrett MP, Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth, Second Reading Speech, 30 May 2013, p. 3. 7 DEEWR, Submission 56, p. 6. 8 DEEWR, Submission 56, p. 2. 9 Mr David De Silva, Group Manager, Department of Education, Employment and Workplace

Relations (DEEWR), Proof Transcript, Canberra, 6 June 2013, p. 7. 10 DEEWR, Submission 56, p. 4. 11 Early Years Quality Fund Special Account Bill 2013, Explanatory Memorandum, p. 2. 12 DEEWR, Submission 56, p. 4. 13 DEEWR, Submission 56, p. 4.

EARLY YEARS QUALITY FUND SPECIAL ACCOUNT BILL 2013 3

needs. This occurs when children have the opportunity to interact with the same educator on a regular basis.14

1.8 The Fund also seeks to support the objectives of the National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Services (NQF).15 DEEWR submitted that the policy objective of the Bill - increasing wages in order to improve retention rates of educators within the sector - supports the requirements of the NQF:

The Fund is a continuation of steps towards greater professionalisation in the early childhood education and care sector and providing a high-quality standard of education care for all Australian children.16

Operation of the fund 1.9 Eligible childcare centres will be able to apply for grants to fund remuneration of employees and other employment related costs and expenses, including:

 superannuation contributions;

 leave entitlements;

 payroll tax;

 workers compensation; and

 professional development activities.17

1.10 Applications made for funding employee remunerations and other related costs, will be assessed against the criteria in the Program Guidelines. Similarly, wage increases ‘will be paid in line with a wage schedule published in the Program Guidelines’.18 DEEWR advised that the Fund:

…will enable grants to be paid to approved long day care services to provide wage increases of $3 an hour at the Certificate II qualified educator level, with proportional increases across the classification scale to ensure those with higher qualifications will receive a higher wage increase.19

1.11 DEEWR advised that after the two-year lifespan of the Fund, wage increases resulting from successful applications will lapse. Ms Jennifer Taylor, Deputy Secretary of DEEWR, explained that there are ‘a number of

14 DEEWR, Submission 56, p. 3. 15 DEEWR, Submission 56, pp. 2-3. 16 DEEWR, Submission 56, p. 3. 17 Early Years Quality Fund Special Account Bill 2013, Explanatory Memorandum, p. 2. 18 Early Years Quality Fund Special Account Bill 2013, Explanatory Memorandum, p. 2. 19 Ms Jennifer Taylor, Deputy Secretary, DEEWR, Proof Transcript, Canberra, 6 June 2013, p. 1.

4 EARLY YEARS QUALITY FUND SPECIAL ACCOUNT BILL 2013

other mechanisms’ available to the sector within which wage increases might be pursued into the future. One such mechanism is the pay equity unit in the Fair Work Commission.20

1.12 The Program Guidelines referred to in the Bill’s Explanatory Memorandum are yet to be developed. The Government established the Early Years Quality Fund Advisory Board to provide advice to DEEWR on the content and operation of the Program Guidelines.21 The Advisory Board conducted its first meeting on 6 June 2013.

1.13 The Program Guidelines will be developed under the Commonwealth Grants Guidelines as administered by the Department of Finance and Deregulation and approved by the Minister for Finance.22 The Guidelines will be published on the DEEWR website.

Conduct of the inquiry

1.14 On 30 May 2013, the House of Representatives Selection Committee referred the Early Years Quality Fund Special Account Bill 2013 (the Bill) to this Committee for inquiry and report. The reason for the referral was:

Serious concerns regarding the decision to only fund a pay rise for around one third of the long day care workforce. This is highly inequitable and will only seek to create a two-tiered system of childcare in this country. The panel responsible for determining the eligibility criteria fails to include representation from the peak body that represents 79% of the private sector, however, have included significant representation of the non-for-profit and community sectors, plus union representation. This bill needs serious consideration and consultation from the sector to determine whether this wage fund as designed will in fact be detrimental to the sector.23

1.15 The Committee received 99 submissions and held a public hearing on Thursday 6 June 2013 in Canberra. The Committee also authorised for publication volumes of submissions that were received as part of political campaigns that supported and opposed the Bill.

20 Ms Taylor, DEEWR, Proof Transcript, Canberra, 6 June 2013, p. 2. 21 DEEWR, Submission 56, p. 6. 22 DEEWR, Submission 56, p. 6. 23 House of Representatives Selection Committee, Report No. 82, Consideration of Bills, 30 May

2013, p. 3.

EARLY YEARS QUALITY FUND SPECIAL ACCOUNT BILL 2013 5

Stakeholder involvement 1.16 The Committee received significant amounts of correspondence stating general support or opposition to the proposal without addressing the detail of the Bill. The great bulk of this correspondence was in the form of

template letters where individuals were invited to insert paragraphs conveying their views or experiences.

1.17 Such expressions of support or opposition for a policy are not appropriate to an inquiry into a bill and would have been better directed by submitting a petition to the House or by lobbying local members or the Minister. An inquiry into a bill examines the efficacy of the proposed legislation in enacting a policy.

1.18 Mistaking of the character of a committee inquiry into a bill for a broader political debate is regrettable and contributed little to deliberations and the subsequent report.

1.19 The Committee urges organisations responsible for these campaigns, in this instance United Voice, Australian Childcare Alliance, Childcare NSW and similar organisations, to inform themselves of the purposes of committee inquiries and how to most productively engage with them.

Issues raised during inquiry

1.20 Submissions to the inquiry canvassed two issues. While no submissions raised concerns about the effectiveness of the Bill to enact the proposed policy, submissions pointed to concerns with the policy itself.

Support for the Bill 1.21 United Voice, the union responsible for the ‘Big Steps’ campaign advocating for professional wages in the early education sector, submitted that despite not all workers being eligible for the fund, it is an important

first step towards achieving equitable wages across the sector. United Voice noted:

Members wanted the Fund to be larger than $300 million. They acknowledge that this is not adequate to fund professional wages for the entire workforce. However, they also acknowledge that this is the most that Labor could offer in this budget….24

1.22 United Voice further noted:

24 United Voice, Submission 46, p. 3.

6 EARLY YEARS QUALITY FUND SPECIAL ACCOUNT BILL 2013

If Government is truly invested in the quality of education of young children then they will have to be equally invested in paying quality educators to do that work. The EYQF sets that principle in stone.25

Opposition to the Bill 1.23 A number of submissions opposed the Bill based on concerns that the scheme would create inequalities within the early childhood workforce. The Australian Childcare Alliance, the peak national body for

representing the long day education and care sector throughout Australia. noted:

This announcement has already caused outrage and division amongst educators in the early education and care sector. Educators are understandably angry as their colleagues in the long day care centre across the road may receive the grant whilst they receive nothing.26

1.24 The Australian Childcare Centres Association, the representative organisation for the majority of the private sector of the children’s services industry, noted:

The members of ACCA view the EYQF as being unfair and discriminatory in its nature by providing for pay increases for a minority of educators in the sector, whilst leaving more than 60% of dedicated educators in the long day care sector with no increase at all.27

Claims relating to requisite union membership 1.25 A number of submissions raised concerns that United Voice has claimed that union membership is required in order to receive a pay increase under the scheme.

1.26 Under the Fair Work Act 2009, all employers, employees and independent contractors are free to become, or not to become, members of an industrial association, such as a trade union or employer association.28

25 United Voice, Submission 46, p. 3. 26 Australian Childcare Alliance, Submission 44, p. 9. 27 Australian Childcare Centres Association, Submission 58, p. 2. 28 DEEWR, ‘Early Years Quality Fund Frequently Asked Questions’

accessed 12 June 2013.

EARLY YEARS QUALITY FUND SPECIAL ACCOUNT BILL 2013 7

1.27 Imposing an eligibility requirement of the kind asserted by United Voice would appear to be against the Fair Work Act’s general protections provisions.

1.28 DEEWR advised that it had received queries from relevant stakeholders on this point, after which its ‘Early Years Quality Fund Frequently Asked Questions’ page had been updated.29

1.29 DEEWR also wrote to the National Secretary of United Voice in April 2013, advising of concerns raised by stakeholders regarding required union membership, and providing correct information about the eligibility of the Fund’s grants. Mr David De Silva, Group Manager, stated:

In the letter I said I could not assess the veracity of the claims. We are a policy department. So I just said that these issues had been raised with the department and that I was making them aware that these issues had been raised. I said that the information that is on the website is the totality that is available in relation to the development of the fund. And I think I asked them to make sure that this information is made clear to anyone who is talking about this fund.30

1.30 A copy of the letter dated 11 April 2013, was attached to the DEEWR submission provided and is available from the Committee’s inquiry webpage.31

1.31 DEEWR emailed all eligible long day care centres on 19 April 2013 to clarify that the ‘only source of definitive information regarding the Early Years Quality Fund was the Early Years Quality Fund page on the DEEWR website’. The email also encouraged services and their staff to ‘consult the website in the case of any queries’.32 A copy of the email was also attached to the DEEWR submission and is available from the Committee’s inquiry webpage.

1.32 As DEEWR is a policy department, and does not have enforcement powers, it would not have been appropriate for the Department to progress this matter any further. Mr De Silva stated:

29 Mr De Silva, DEEWR, Proof Transcript, Canberra, 6 June 2013, p. 6. 30 Mr De Silva, DEEWR, Proof Transcript, Canberra, 6 June 2013, p. 3. 31 See:

accessed 12 June 2013. 32 DEEWR, Submission 56, pp. 7-8. See accessed 14 June 2013.

8 EARLY YEARS QUALITY FUND SPECIAL ACCOUNT BILL 2013

The department does not have an investigatory role in [industrial relations]. There is the Fair Work Ombudsman, who has been created to do that. 33

1.33 Similarly, Ms Taylor indicated that there may be issues of consumer law:

At the back of my head on that I was thinking about consumer law—that if there is false and misleading advertising.34

1.34 The Committee notes the concerns that the Bill is being used as a recruitment tool for United Voice. Claims of pay rises being conditional on membership were a significant issue and propelled much stakeholder concern during the inquiry from both supporters of the Fund and its general opponents. Such claims, were they to be made, could not be substantiated and they have distracted from an otherwise important and worthy program for the sector.

Committee comment

1.35 The Bill builds upon previous investment by the Government in early childhood education and care services in Australia. Significantly, recent figures indicate that over 499,000 families and over 615,000 children are using long day care services.35 Providing quality and affordable services in light of these record high numbers is particularly important for Australia’s current and future labour markets as well as national productivity.

1.36 The Fund proposed in the Bill contributes to a stable, sustainable and professional workforce. The link between stable staff and achieving quality educational outcomes in early childhood is clear in the literature, including reports of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development published in 2006.36

1.37 The Committee acknowledges the concerns existing within the sector that the limited funds available in the scheme will lead to some pay disparity. However, the Fund is an important first step in working towards improved wages within the early childhood sector and it is the responsibility of all employers, including the Government and the private sector to work towards better pay in this important industry.

33 Mr De Silva, DEEWR, Proof Transcript, Canberra, 6 June 2013, p. 7. 34 Ms Taylor, DEEWR, Proof Transcript, Canberra, 6 June 2013, p. 6. 35 DEEWR, Submission 56, p. 8. 36 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Starting Strong II: Early Childhood

Education and Care, Paris, 2006.

EARLY YEARS QUALITY FUND SPECIAL ACCOUNT BILL 2013 9

1.38 The Committee also acknowledges stakeholder concerns regarding the 2 year life span of the Fund and its associated remuneration benefits to workers in the sector. The Committee also notes the establishment of the pay equity unit in the Fair Work Commission as a forum where these concerns can be pursued at a future date.

1.39 Consequently, the Committee recommends that the House of Representatives pass the Bill.

Recommendation 1

The Committee recommends that the House of Representatives pass the Early Years Quality Fund Special Account Bill 2013.

Mike Symon Chair 17 June 2013

A

Appendix A - Submissions

01 Ms Melinda Bashford

02 Ms Regina Penglaze

03 Ms Cameille Handley

04 Rosanna Village Childcare Centre

05 Doncaster East Daycare and Kindergarten

06 Bubbles Pre-School

07 Ms Pauline Bailey

08 Ms Lauren Medek

09 Ms Natasha Muller

10 ASPEN Community Child Care Inc.

11 Whiz Kids Early Learning Centres

12 Ms Karen Brooks

13 All Star Early Learners

14 Mr Mark Sperling

15 Mr Mark Davis

16 Rangeville Early Education Centre

17 Mr Matthew Preston

18 The Munro Centre

19 Mr Andrew Evetts

20 Stepping Stone Childcare and Early Development Centres

21 Vinza Beer

22 Adventures Preschool and Long Day Care

12 ADVISORY REPORT ON EARLY YEARS QUALITY FUND SPECIAL ACCOUNT BILL 2013

23 Ms Kathy Lloyd

24 Kids On Campus

25 Ms Brenda Jones

26 Kool Kids Early Learning Centre

27 Ms Sue Bill

28 Satinder Sharma

29 Stepping Stones Childcare Centre

30 Sharmalee Karunaratna

31 Country Kids Children's Centre

32 Ms Kellyanne Gianatti

33 Ms Kate Parsfield

34 Ms Libby Klingberg

35 Ms Julie Smithers

36 Ms Jenny Sheward-Spence

37 Cardiff Early Education and Care Centre

38 Boulevard Early Learning Centre

39 Ms Trudy Stewart-Cook

40 Mr Ian Garven

41 Mr Trevor Davies

42 Child Care Centres Association of Victoria

43 Australian Federation of Employers and Industries

44 Australian Childcare Alliance

45 Child Care National Association

46 United Voice

47 Family Day Care Educators Association NSW Inc

48 Community Connections Solutions Australia (CCSA)

49 Ms Nadia Woods

50 Green Cottage Childcare and Kindergarten

51 Ms Joanne Smit

52 Wellington Point Day Care

53 Orana Garden Childcare Centre

54 Ms Katrina Hookway

55 CONFIDENTIAL

56 Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations

APPENDIX A - SUBMISSIONS 13

57 Total Childcare Solutions Australia Ltd

58 Australian Childcare Centres Association

59 Childcare Queensland Inc

60 Community Child Care Co-Operative Ltd. (NSW) (CCCC)

61 Goodstart Early Learning

62 Child Care New South Wales

63 Independent Education Union of Australia

64 Lee Ducker

65 Chelsea Central Child Care

66 Precious Cargo

67 Ms Jan Taylor

68 Ms Sheena Biddle

69 Tadpoles Early Learning Centre

70 Ms Mira Doorne

71 Ms Cheryl Finlayson

72 Ms Wendy Raghoobar

73 Ms Emma Powter

74 North East Community Children’s Centre

75 Ms Caroline Cleary

76 Ms Ruth Lockhart

77 Ms Peta Paget

78 Ms Lisa Enright

79 Ms Jodie Vindis

80 Ms Julie Hobson

81 Ms Joan Holmes

82 Blue Gum Early Learning and Child Care Centre Management Committee

83 NurtureOne

84 Ms Wendy Achterberg

85 Ms June McIntyre

86 Oorama Education

87 Ms Sharon Verschaeren

88 Ms Sarah Heath

89 Ms Donna Easey

14 ADVISORY REPORT ON EARLY YEARS QUALITY FUND SPECIAL ACCOUNT BILL 2013

90 Engadine Occasional Child Care

91 Kindy Kapers Early Learning Centres

92 Bella Grace Early Learning Centre

93 Childcare Solutions

94 Explore and Develop

95 Regand Park

96 Care with connection

97 Kinda Kapers

98 Ms Suzanne Barrett

99 Australian Industry Group

B

Appendix B - Witnesses and public hearing

Thursday, 6 June 2013 - Canberra

Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations

Ms Jennifer Taylor, Deputy Secretary

Mr David De Silva, Group Manager

Dissenting Report—Rowan Ramsey MP, Karen Andrews MP, Alan Tudge MP

The Coalition Members of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education and Employment recognise that many workers are not highly paid despite their skills and dedication.

However the Coalition Members are concerned that this bill rewards a selective minority and is a shallow attempt by the government to reward their union supporters.

Like many other bill inquiries in the dying days of the 43rd Parliament, the Coalition Members are concerned the committee has not had an appropriate period of time to examine the bill and finds this lack of process totally unacceptable.

The last minute rush of legislation is very surprising considering the Prime Minister nominated September 14th as the day of the next election in January. The government has known all year when the election would be held but apparently, has been unable to manage its legislative program to avoid the ill-considered and dangerous rush in the final few weeks of this Parliament.

The bill delivers extra funding for some long day care services, but provides too little resource to treat all centres equally, so instead will select winners and losers. It is being misused by the United Voice union to recruit members and it is difficult not to believe that this outcome was not the government’s intended consequence.

The inquiry received ninety nine submissions with the overwhelming majority expressing grave concerns with the unfairness of the funding, the bullying actions of the union and the lack of on-going funding which will eventually lead to higher costs for parents.

18 DISSENTING REPORT

Inequity

The issue most raised in the submissions was that of inequity. With the $300M predicted to cover only 27-40% of the workers in the sector, the commonly held view was that all child care centres should be treated equally. Serious concerns were also raised with the duration of the funding and the point made was that it was only for two years, centres would have no choice at the time of cessation but to pass on the increased costs to the parents. Others were concerned that the new wage platform would be used to wring equal wages and conditions out of centres who were not awarded the subsidy.

Childcare Queensland said in their submission:

“The 27% - 40% of services that are successful in gaining the grant will only receive the funding for a period of two years as there is no provision for this grant funding to be continued past 30/06/2015. It will be extremely difficult for these services to reduce the wages at this time so they will all be forced to increase their fees by $10+ per child per day”.

And from Kinda Kapers, Mount Hutton NSW:

“This will create a two tiered wage system with centres who are not successful in attracting the grant money either dramatically increasing fees to enable them to match the wage increase or being unable to attract the very few trained staff who available for employment. Regional and rural centres will be most negatively affected as they are the centres currently most negatively impacted by the industry skill shortage”.

United Voice Union

A large number of submissions raised the issue of inappropriate union actions within United Voice’s “Big Steps” campaign. It was commonly reported the union was claiming centres could not qualify for funding unless they had a 60% unionised workforce.

During the hearing with the department the committee was informed the department had informed centres this was not the case, but it was unclear how well that information was disseminated.

The committee received evidence (supressed) that at least one childcare operator had their name and house identified electronically by a union official, and was personally vilified as an individual who could have no understanding of the workers position. The Coalition Members are concerned that the Early Years Fund Special Account

EARLY YEARS QUALITY FUND SPECIAL ACCOUNT BILL 2013 19

is a gift from the Federal Government to a union that is a significant financial contributor to the Australian Labor Party.

The Australian Childcare Alliance said in their submission:

“During the past two years there has been considerable union activity at the services Australia wide increasing substantially since the announcement of the EYQF grant by the Prime Minister. Many of our members have reported that this union activity has been intimidating to both themselves and their staff.

Our members around Australia have been advising us of the strong arm tactics of the United Voice Union organisers who have been telling members that they must have 60 per cent plus membership to engage with them to submit the Enterprise Agreement”.

Wage Claims

There is a fair argument to be made that with the introduction of the National Quality Framework the role of childcare educators has changed, and has become more professionalised. However, whilst we acknowledge these educators must be paid fairly for the work they undertake, there is a proper process for making these claims. Instead of a short term fix, that benefits well under half of the workforce, there needs to be a wage claim made through the Fair Work Commission, a quasi-judiciary body properly resourced and set up for this purpose. This would see any decided wage increases applied fairly, industry wide, and they would not be subject to the limited timeframe of the Early Years Quality Fund

Conclusion

It is clear the government’s proposals have created a great amount of division and anger in the sector. People are confused and suspicious of who and where the extra funding is likely to go and who will make the decisions on the successful applicants and on what basis. The Coalition Members are concerned that this bill instead addressing the sector as a whole is simply a mechanism to increase union membership.

This was well summed up by the Australian Childcare Alliance:

“This announcement has already caused outrage and division amongst educators in the early education and care sector. Educators are understandably angry as their colleagues in the long day care centre across the road may receive the grant whilst they receive nothing.

20 DISSENTING REPORT

The Grant funding is unfair, inequitable and discriminatory. It has proven to be a huge boost to the United Voice Union as they openly state that their membership has grown from 10 per cent to 28 per cent in the two months since the announcement of the Fund”.

Recommendation 1

That wage claims be made through the Fair Work Commission.

Recommendation 2

That due to the time frames, equity and wage claim matters raised in this report, the bill in its current form not be passed at this time.

Rowan Ramsey MP (Deputy Chair) Karen Andrews MP

Alan Tudge MP