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High-Quality Childcare Must Be A Top Priority

A new survey showing overwhelming public support for quality childcare reinforces the message to the Federal Government that childcare is an essential service which needs appropriate funding, according to Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.

Senator Hanson-Young, Greens spokesperson on Childcare, says 84 per cent of people surveyed wanted the Federal Government to make quality childcare a priority, emphasising the growing dissatisfaction with the pace of reform in early childhood education and care.

"It is obvious that the public is tired of waiting for the Government to take action to improve the standard and conditions of childcare,'' Senator Hanson-Young said."Australian parents and their children deserve better. We need to see more qualified staff, more support for child care workers, better staff-to-child ratios (a minimum of 1:4) and increased overall funding for this vital service industry.

"The Government must take more responsibility to make childcare effective and affordable for all, rather than a money-making exercise for corporate providers.''

A recent report by the National Childcare Accreditation Council found that one in five childcare centres had unsafe buildings or equipment, while a similar number failed basic hygiene and food safety standards.

"It is unacceptable that some of our children are being cared for at substandard sites, with unsafe practices and a level of care that falls well short of what is needed,'' Senator Hanson-Young said.

"These system failures are another reason why urgent action is needed - if the Government is not willing to listen, we need to speak louder.

"We wouldn't accept unqualified teachers or schools being floated on the stockmarket, so why should we accept it for childcare, when it is acknowledged that early childhood education is the most important of all.

"The Greens fully support the campaign to force Governments to act on reform at the next Council of Australian Governments meeting in December.''

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