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Tuesday, 3 February 2009
Page: 101

Mr Abbott asked the Minister for Education, in writing, on 18 June 2008:

Has the Government investigated the feasibility of a ministerial approval process for childcare centre fee increases; and would any such system be similar to the system for ministerial approval of fee increases for private health insurers.

Ms Gillard (Minister for Education, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and Minister for Social Inclusion) —The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

The Rudd Government recognises the significant impact of child care fees and the first Budget has taken some major steps toward assisting with those costs. From 1 July 2008, the Child Care Tax Rebate increased from 30 per cent to 50 per cent of out-of-pocket child care costs, up to $7500 per child in approved care. This benefit is not means tested and is payable to parents and guardians who are working, studying or training. The Child Care Tax Rebate can be paid quarterly or taken as an annual lump sum payment.

The Government is establishing up to 260 additional early learning and child care services over the next six years. This will increase the supply of child care places in areas of unmet demand. The successful service providers would be required to demonstrate a capacity to deliver high quality, affordable child care.

We are also undertaking significant reforms to build capacity in the workforce to address the shortage of skilled child care workers, create national consistency in quality standards and licensing, and providing universal access to 15 hours of affordable early learning a week, 40 weeks a year, for all children in the year before formal schooling.

The Rudd Government is committed to providing families with access to better information about child care, so that they can readily identify the services that best meet their needs. Providing parents with access to the best possible information is a starting point for increased competition and improved transparency in the sector.

On 22 October 2008 I, together with the Parliamentary Secretary for Early Childhood Education and Child Care, Maxine McKew, the Minister for Families and Community Services, Jenny Macklin and 2003 Australian of the Year, Professor Fiona Stanley, launched the website. is a virtual children’s hub for parents and carers which provides access to important health, early learning, child care and parenting support information in one convenient location. includes a searchable database of local child care centres including the services they provide and the fees they charge. The Government will build on this information as the new Quality Framework is developed and delivered from July 2009.

Information on services fees will also be available via the Child Care Access Hotline, a telephone service provided by the Government that gives parents information to help them choose a child care service that meets their needs. When calling the Child Care Access Hotline, a professionally trained operator provides parents with information about child care services and possible vacancies in their area, types of child care available, quality issues, and Government financial assistance with the cost of child care. Various child care options such as long day care, family day care, in-home care, outside school hours care and occasional care are explained so that parents can make an informed choice.

Providing greater information to parents is part of the Rudd Government’s comprehensive plan to deliver high quality, affordable and accessible child care for Australian children. This is also part of creating a more transparent market for child care services.

The Government thanks those 8000 child care services across the country which voluntarily provided information for publication on and the Child Care Access Hotline and looks forward to receiving information from even more centres in the future.