Cathy McGowan calls for commitment to rural, regional and remote childcare
Posted October 21, 2016
Ms McGOWAN (Indi) (14:22): My question is to the Prime Minister. It is a question about the provision of child care in rural, regional and remote Australia. What is the government's commitment to families who live outside our major cities and towns? The chairperson of the National Association of Mobile Services, NAMS, recently told a Senate committee addressing the Jobs for Families Child Care Package that the legislation would ensure the closure of up to 90 per cent of the 46 budget based funded mobile childcare services, including four in Victoria and one in Indi. Mr Prime Minister, can you please assure the House that the government really cares about the provision of child care to farming and Aboriginal families and those who live in remote areas and will guarantee funding for these valued services which cannot be supported—(Time expired)
Mr TURNBULL (Wentworth—Prime Minister) (14:22): I thank the honourable member for her question. I can assure her that on this side of the House we are committed to spending record levels on child care through the Jobs for Families Child Care Package. We will support childcare services in rural, regional and Indigenous communities through programs such as the Community Child Care Fund. The status quo is clearly not working in a sufficiently fair or transparent way for existing budget based funded services with some services receiving less than $100 per child and other services receiving thousands of dollars per child.
I can well understand the concern the honourable member has for the services in her electorate. I can inform her that the government will carefully transition services to enable them to become approved to administer the childcare subsidy where appropriate. For the first time parents using these services will be able to attract a childcare subsidy and operators will be able to attract funding to support their service's viability. Importantly, the transition support we are rolling out over the coming months will ensure the business model works for the location of the service.
Mr Snowdon interjecting—
The SPEAKER: The member for Lingiari, do not interject.
Mr TURNBULL: Commencing early next year this transition work will include developing a business plan, preparing a budget, setting appropriate fees and fee collection processes, developing staffing rosters and establishing a viable operational structure that meets the needs of the community. We anticipate that any supplementary funding for individual services would be informed by the work of the transition consultants and reflect and, where possible, address specific transition challenges that may be faced by individual providers. The reality is that some of the budget based funded services are not delivering child care, but we recognise that they are delivering a vital community service. Where that is the case, we will identify alternative funding sources appropriate to the type of service they are offering and the number of children being cared for.
We believe the early years of a child's life are vitally important—I know that all honourable members do—in ensuring children meet the learning and development milestones necessary for a strong start in life and for a positive transition to school. Parents are the first and most important teachers that children will have, of course, and that is why we have invested in both programs that support parents and children and support parents' participation requirements through formal child care.
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