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Thursday, 14 November 1985
Page: 2164

Senator GILES —Has the attention of the Minister for Community Services been drawn to the West Australian of 12 November which carries an item alleging that there will be an extra charge of $11 a week for every child attending a day care centre and that single mothers receiving welfare would be discouraged from seeking work? Will the Minister explain the position for the benefit of West Australian users of child care, bearing in mind that the daily paper has not seen fit to carry a factual account of the new funding arrangements?

Senator GRIMES —The West Australian newspaper plus some other newspapers reported various alarmist stories about child care changes. These stories were sometimes the result of the fevered imagination of the reporters concerned. At other times the stories were put out by vested interests who feared that the changes to child care funding would affect their incomes. The facts are-and the facts are particularly important in Western Australia-that about 58 per cent of users of day care centres will have a maximum increase of $2 a week, or 5c an hour. That $2 a week will apply only to those who have their children in care for 40 hours. Most people have their children in care for much less than that. Single parents, for instance, on average will have an increase of about 80c to 85c a week. But under the new funding arragements, as under the old funding arrangements, there is provision for the centres to take into account the special needs of those who are particularly badly off and fees can be waived altogether.

A small number of people, about 6 per cent, from memory, will have increases of between $2 and $10. A similar number will have increases of between $10 and $20 and less than one per cent will have increases of over $20. They will all be people in receipt of incomes above about $32,000 to $36,000 a year. About 3 per cent of people with one child, and particular-people with two children, will have a considerable decrease in their fees. This is a result of the rearrangement of the funding. I hope that the newspapers that have been publishing alarmist stories about what they think might happen in the new child care funding arrangements will have the decency to print the details of the funding arrangements which have been arrived at so that their alarmist stories of the past which are sometimes fed to them by people who should know better can be counteracted and the fears of people allayed.