Child care operators will get relief from the onerous red tape and regulations Labor has imposed on the sector, in a bid to reduce costs and improve affordability and flexibility for sectors.
Assistant Minister for Education Sussan Ley announced today that federal, state and territory governments had all agreed to streamline Labor’s messy National Quality Framework (NQF) legislation following Friday’s Standing Council on School Education and Early Childhood meeting.
Ms Ley said this would include amending national regulation as a priority to help relieve pressure on parents and operators while legislative changes were formalised.
"The Coalition has a clear position supporting high-quality child care, but it needs to be delivered in a fairer way that doesn't make it unaffordable and inaccessible for parents and providers," Ms Ley said.
"The child care industry has said loud and clear that Labor’s increased red tape and regulations are some of the main reasons forcing them to raise fees and we’re listening.
"These changes will be a significant first step in improving the implementation of the National Quality Framework.
"It also complements our decision to hold an over-arching Productivity Commission inquiry into more affordable and flexible child care options for modern-day parents.”
Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister Josh Frydenberg said this was another example of how the Coalition was cutting government red tape and regulation.
"The Coalition is committed to working with businesses and the not-for-profit sector to simplify costly and burdensome regulation such as this in order to get our economy moving again,” Mr Frydenberg said.
Ms Ley said a key change to the NQF would see the assessment and ratings process streamlined to speed up processing times for states and territories and reduce the number of hoops operators had to jump through.
"Currently all operators have to undergo assessment in seven 'quality areas’ that require compliance with 18 ‘standards’ and 58 ‘elements’ just to receive a quality rating—it’s a bureaucratic nightmare," Ms Ley said.
"But if it wasn’t complex enough, none of these regulations are individually weighted to represent their importance, meaning one minor issue could deliver a poor rating across the board.
"These improvements will streamline this process for everyone and make it fairer so operators can focus more of their time on care and education, rather than administration.”
Ms Ley said the changes would also return the right for child care operators to appoint experienced staff to supervisor roles without having to pay for government certification.
"Unfortunately many operators with experienced staff have had to essentially take them off supervisor duty until they can get this new certificate approved under the NQF, which can take up to 90 days," Ms Ley said.
"This essentially means some operators are being forced to operate outside the law while they wait for approval, which is grossly unfair.”
Ms Ley said other proposed changes included:
- improved recognition for staff studying a relevant early childhood degree
- greater flexibility on staff ratios if an employee is sick or absent for the short term
- greater flexibility for the administration of basic first-aid on school sites.
Ms Ley said she would continue to work with the states and territories to formalise the changes and would make further announcements in the coming months.
The cost of hourly fees for long day care increased an average of 44 per cent during Labor’s six years in government.