Release type: Media Release

Date:

Senate report backs moves to lift child care quality

Ministers:

The Hon Kate Ellis MP
Minister for Early Childhood Education, Child Care and Youth

Minister for Early Childhood Education and Child Care Kate Ellis has welcomed the report of a Senate Standing Committee into the Provision of Child Care.

The Education, Employment and Workplace Relations References Committee began its inquiry into the provision of childcare on 25 November 2008 and today tabled its report in the Senate.

The report expresses strong support for lifting the quality of child care in Australia – reform that the Australian Government is leading in partnership with the States and Territories.

The Senate Standing Committee’s report notes that there is an:

“… urgency to the tasks already being undertaken by COAG to agree to a national approach to childcare provision, to implement commonly agreed standards, to provide for their enforcement and to lift minimum standards of training and the employment status of those who work in the sector.” (page 15)

“We’re working hard to achieve lower staff-to-child ratios, higher qualifications for staff, tougher quality standards for services and a rating system so that parents can make informed choices about where they send their kids,” Ms Ellis said.

“The experts have told us that the first five years of a child’s life are instrumental to their future health and happiness. In those precious years, important social and educational development takes place, shaping the lives they will live and the people they’ll become.”

“Improving the quality of early education and child care is a priority for the Rudd Government and one that we’re investing heavily in,” she said.

Decisions will be made on the National Quality Agenda at December’s COAG meeting.

The affordability of child care is also a key concern of the Committee - as it is for the Australian Government.

“We’ve delivered on our election promise to pay half of parents’ out-of-pocket child care costs - by increasing the Child Care Rebate from 30 to 50%,” Ms Ellis said.

“That action has dramatically improved affordability, with ABS statistics showing child care costs to parents fell by over 20% as a result,” Ms Ellis said.

“We’re investing almost $16 billion in child care over the next four years - four billion more than under the Howard Government - including $12.8 billion to help families meet the cost of child care.”

“We’re also investing in child care services for Indigenous families, children in rural and remote areas and those living in low socio-economic areas.

“We’re building 35 Children and Family Centres across Australia as part of the $564 millionIndigenous Early Childhood Development National Partnership Agreement.”

“And we’re investing $114.5 million in 38 Early Learning and Care Centres, as part of the Education Revolution.”

The report is available at: http://www.aph.gov.au/Senate/committee/eet_ctte/child_care/