A new report released today shows unprecedented growth in Australia’s child care sector as record numbers of families take advantage of all-time high levels of Government fee assistance to return to work.
The Child Care in Australia report also confirms that fee increases have remained stable for nearly a decade meaning with big increases in fee assistance, families have been financially better off under Labor.
Early Childhood and Child Care Minister Kate Ellis said figures in the report told a compelling story and vindicated Labor’s decision to improve affordability for families and quality standards of the child care sector.
She said Coalition claims of parents turning away from child care because of spiralling fees were now stopped dead in their tracks.
“Child care is booming in Australia,” Ms Ellis said.
“It’s booming due to Labor decisions and booming despite scare campaigns from the Liberals.
“It’s time for the Liberals to stop talking down the sector and debate child care based on facts, not figures plucked from thin air, rumours and innuendo.
“The report shows record numbers of children and families in record numbers of child care services across the nation. Of course more needs to be done, but this is a testament to Labor efforts over the past six years.”
Key findings in the report include:
- More than 1 million children in child care – a 30 per cent increase under Labor;
- More than 726,000 families using child care– a 27 per cent increase under Labor;
- More than 15,000 child care services in Australia – a 40 per cent increase under Labor;
- The average child care fee increase across the sector last year was 7.3 per cent, lower than the previous year (7.4 per cent) and in line with the average annual increase since 2004 (6.9 per cent);
- Average families with annual income of $75,000 spent 8.4 per cent of their disposable income on child care in 2012, compared to 13.0 per cent of their income in 2004; and
- A family with annual income of $120,000 has out of pocket expenses of $2.98 for average long day care hourly fees of $7.20.
Ms Ellis said not only were more families using child care than ever before, they were using child care on more days of the week for longer hours.
“Nearly half of all 3 to 5 year-olds in Australia are now in child care – up from 43.5 per cent six years ago,” she said.
“But the average child in long day care spends nearly one hour extra every week in care – increases are also recorded in family day care and occasional care.”
Ms Ellis said while the report was encouraging, challenges remained for the sector, particularly relating to availability.
“While there’s been strong growth in the number of places, there are still unacceptable shortages in many highly populated centres, particularly Sydney and Melbourne,” she said.
“Our Government is tackling these shortages on a number of fronts but it will take partnerships between all levels of government and the private sector.
“But the fact remains, no Government has done more for child care than Labor over the past six years.
“This is in contrast to the Coalition which, after six years in Opposition, can’t come up with a single policy except to promise a review after the election.”
To view the report, visit http://www.mychild.gov.au/pages/ResourcesReports.aspx