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Wednesday, 21 April 1999
Page: 4085


Senator Woodley asked the Minister representing the Minister for Employment Services, upon notice, on 24 February 1999:

With reference to a report in the Canberra Times on 8 February 1999 which states that `work for the dole' participants will help look after toddlers and children at child care centres run by the Southside Community Service in the Australian Capital Territory:

(1) How many Work for the Dole participants will be taking part in assisting with the care of children at child care services run by Southside Community Service

(2) What process was followed in selecting which Work for the Dole participants are suitable to assist in the care of children.

(3) What police checks and training will Work for the Dole participants undertake before commencing work with children at child care centres.

(4) What consultations with the parents of children at these centres was undertaken before the decision to place Work for the Dole participants in these facilities was finalised.

(5) How many other child care centres throughout Australia will be participating in the Work for the Dole program.

(6) Will private child care centres throughout Australia also participate in this program.

(7) What additional responsibilities will be placed on existing child care centre employees as a result of the employment of Work for the Dole participants.

(8) Will Work for the Dole participants be left to care for children without supervision in child care centres.


Senator Alston (Communications, Information Technology and the Arts) —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(1) Twenty-four participants will be taking part in the Round 1 Work for the Dole project at Southside Community Child Care Service which commenced on 8 February 1999. A further twenty-four participants are expected to commence a Round 2 Work for the Dole project in August 1999.

(2) The following is specified as the minimum procedural requirements for selecting participants in Work for the Dole child care projects:

* the principal or head of the centre must participate in interviews to select participants and have control over who is selected; and

* reasonable inquiries must be made in respect of participants including referees reports from persons who have known the participant for a minimum of 5 years, and police checks on participants to establish he/she has no convictions for crimes against children.

The objective is to establish whether the participant is a fit and proper person to participate in the project.

(3) Each participant will be automatically subjected to police checks to establish he/she has no convictions for crimes against children. In the Southside Community Service Work for the Dole projects all participants will be provided with the following training:

* Occupational Health and Safety;

* Safety and Hygiene;

* Behaviour Management in Children;

* Programming for Children;

* Effective Communication in the Workplace;

* Developmental Stages of Children 0-6 years; and

* Red Cross/St John Ambulance First Aid Certificate.

(4) It is a requirement that all Work for the Dole projects meet the needs of the local community and have the support of key community groups. Southside Community Service were able to demonstrate that the project had the support of the community. It is understood that parents of children attending the Southside Community Child Care Service were informed in writing of the Work for the Dole project prior to commencement and that formal consultations were undertaken with the parents once the project commenced.

(5) There are nine Work for the Dole projects for approved child care centres across Australia for Round 1 (ie, commencing August 1998 to February 1999) and six projects approved for Round 2 (ie, commencing from February 1999 to August 1999), including the Southside Community Service projects.

(6) Private sector `for profit' organisations, including child care centres, are not eligible for funding under the Work for the Dole program. In addition, participants cannot be placed in private sector `for profit' organisations.

(7) Sponsors with Work for the Dole projects in child care services must ensure participants are adequately supervised at all times by appropriately qualified carers employed by the Sponsor. Sponsors are provided with funding under the Work for the Dole program to employ qualified supervisors and therefore there should be no increase in responsibilities for existing child care employees.

(8) Refer to (7) above.