THE Turnbull government’s early childhood education and care reforms have been comprehensively designed with regional Australia in mind.
While it is disappointing that misleading information continues to be spread, I can reassure regional and rural families they will benefit from our reformed child care package.
Families in cities, in regional centres and in the bush know that our early childhood education and care system is not working for them.
There are 17,500 mainstream services across Australia, 300 Budget Based Funding (BBF) services and 45 services that are mobiles.
These services provide care to around 5000 children across the country.
The government is working with each of the BBF services including assisting every single one of them with tailored, individual support.
Many of the services in regional and rural areas are part of a scheme set up 40 years ago that limits the amount of funding they can get from the government and stops them from growing to support more families.
Failures in the current model are the reason some have closed or others turn families away.
The Turnbull government plans to fix that.
Rather than reduce their support we plan to increase it and provide more opportunity for services to respond to changes in their community.
We are supporting services onto a new model of funding that targets increased support towards those families working the most and earning the least, while our ‘Child Care Safety Net’ worth $1 billion will help services that might not otherwise be viable – like some mobile education and care services in regional and remote communities.
BBF and mobile services will transition from one capped, closed, unlegislated payment to three separate funding streams.
Firstly, the services will have access to the child care subsidy, which will allow growth in funding per child for the first time.
Secondly, they will have access to the additional child care subsidy.
Third, they will access the $110 million Community Child Care Fund.
More funding will be available to them than is currently the case.
We will also remove red tape that currently stops child care services from only operating on certain days or for limited hours, which should also help regional Australia where five day a week, full time services may be unviable.
Overall, official analysis shows our reforms are set to benefit around one million families across the country.
The Turnbull government knows that early education and care is a vital part of the decisions families make about where they live and what sort of work they commit to.
That’s why we’ve taken the time to meet with families and services across the country to help develop our reforms, it’s why I’ve been out to see many regional services in action, and it’s why we’ve put in the time to consult with experts, input from the Productivity Commission and three Senate inquiries.
This includes changes raised by regional and rural communities.
The amendments recently suggested are already addressed through the package and are unfortunately more about political grandstanding than supporting Australian families.
All of this information has been provided to Cathy McGowan over many months.
I will continue to engage and speak with Cathy and hope that she will come to appreciate how our changes will make child care more affordable, accessible and flexible for all Australian families regardless of where they live.