The Government has stalled the Child Care Package by tying it to other welfare reforms in the Omnibus Bill. Samantha Page, CEO of Early Childhood Australia (ECA), calls on all Federal politicians to stop using the Child Care Subsidy Reform as a pawn in political gamesmanship.
Child Care Subsidy Reform is too important for continuing this game of brinksmanship currently playing out in parliament and the media.
The Education Minister is highlighting the plight of thousands of families whose childcare bills will double when their rebate cap ends, yet the Government has stalled the Child Care Package by tying it to other welfare reforms in the Omnibus Bill. These are real families who need real solutions, sooner rather than later.
We've heard from families who say that it's near impossible for both parents to have a career and work full time with the current cost of childcare—especially for families with more than one child. It's impacting the decisions they make for their future in terms of both career and family planning.
The Government needs to put the focus back onto making the improvements still needed in the Child Care Subsidy Package so that Australia’s most vulnerable families are not excluded from accessing early learning. The “Activity Test” needs to be modified so that families, where one parent is not working or works intermittently, can access more than 12 hours a week of early learning.
We have heard the ALP say that they do not want to obstruct the reform and would support the Child Care Subsidy Package if their concerns can be addressed—it is time for solutions to be put on the table and constructive dialogue to occur.
The Greens, NXT and other cross benchers are also well placed to negotiate improvements on the Package, and we hope that they will have an opportunity to do so when the Package is separated from welfare reforms.
Child Care Subsidy Reform should serve two important policy objectives—supporting families to work and sustain themselves and also to provide children with stable, regular and sufficient access to early childhood education that can mitigate disadvantage and set them on the path to lifelong learning and education success.
Samantha Page is the Chief Executive Officer of Early Childhood Australia (ECA). Early Childhood Australia is the peak advocacy body for children under eight, their families and early childhood professionals. Sam has worked in a variety of positions within in the community, public and private sectors, spanning service delivery and service management, policy development, change management and public administration. She has worked closely with community sector leaders, Members of Parliament, senior bureaucrats in Federal Government agencies as well as peak bodies, research institutes and universities. Sam’s current appointments include the Board of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.