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Childcare Inquiry exposes Govt’s need to articulate vision for childcare as part of ‘Education Revolution’

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young says the Senate Inquiry into the provision of childcare has revealed a need for more attention from the Federal Government to the essential service, including its funding and quality controls, to avoid a repeat of the childcare crisis triggered by ABC Learning’s collapse. 

The Senate Education, Employment and Workplace Relations Committee’s Inquiry into the provision of childcare, established by Senator Hanson-Young in the wake of the ABC Learning corporate collapse late last year, held its final hearing in Canberra today.

“The turmoil and heartache inflicted upon the Australian childcare sector by the collapse of ABC Learning in 2008 could have been avoided if the Federal Government had played a more hands-on role in overseeing the care and education of our youngest children,” said Senator Hanson-Young, Greens spokesperson for Childcare and Early Childhood Education.

“Planning, monitoring of compliance and regulation are areas where the Federal Government could have kept a closer eye on the warning signs that this inquiry has heard were raised with the Education Department.”

Senator Hanson-Young said that the Federal Government must adjust childcare funding models for better policy outcomes to be achieved.

“The current childcare funding levers could be set differently for better targeting,” she said.

“Parents are already stretched by the costs of the essential service of childcare.

“Increased public funding, which is better targeted and tied to quality controls, will deliver a higher standard of care for our kids.

“The Greens have called for the Productivity Commission to examine childcare funding models, and hope to see this happen soon.”

Senator Hanson-Young said new national standards being proposed under the COAG agreement on childcare must take into account wages, conditions and qualifications childcare staff being lifted.

“If wages aren’t appropriate for qualified staff, centres won’t attract those staff, and quality care outcomes won’t be achieved,” she said.

“Public funding must enable better wages for those who are caring for our youngest children.

“The Federal Government must provide more proactive policy direction to its Education Department on childcare, so that Australian families can have confidence that they are receiving the best care possible.

“We need to see an articulation of a new vision for childcare from the Federal Government, that puts the care and education of kids at its centre, and an underlying recognition that this care and education is an essential service.”

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