Subjects: Coronavirus and Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package
Basil Zempilas: Dan Tehan is the Federal Minister for Education. It was a massive announcement yesterday. Eighteen minutes after eight, and Minister Tehan joins us now. Dan, good morning. Huge announcement, but obviously extraordinary times, extraordinary measures, and all of that. How much is it going to cost?
Dan Tehan: So, what we’re anticipating is that it will cost $1.6 billion. But, of course, these are extraordinary times, and we want to make sure that we work with the sector so that they can be providing the care that they need to be providing for the children of those workers who are out there protecting us from this pandemic. And, that’s the, that’s the nurses, the doctors, the hospital cleaners, but even the people working in the local tyre repair place that are fixing the truck tyres, that make sure the food can get delivered during this time. We want everyone to be assured of being able to get their children cared for, as they normally are, as best as we can, and that's why we’ve put these measures in place.
Zempilas: So, Minister, if I normally have a place for my child in day care, but I’ve been retrenched or I’m at home on isolation, whatever the case might be, will those fees be paying on my behalf, or what’s the go there?
Tehan: That’s right. What we would suggest to you is reengage with your child care centre, and you will not have to pay any fees as of next week.
Steve Mills: Alright. Dan, that’s terrific. And, Brody, if you don’t mind, is a listener, approved service provider for child care, and has a question. So, Brody, if you don’t mind firing that away, and then we’ll get the Education Minister to answer. All yours, Brody. Go.
Caller Brody: Hi, thank you. Hi, my name’s Brody. I’m an approved service provider with the family day care industry, slightly different to child care services. So, the first thing I’d like to raise is the free child care, that’s wonderful for families. However, the Government’s only paying 50 per cent of the capped rate of fees, and they’re basing that rate off of a fortnight in February. We have, in family day care, a slightly different situation, where we’ve experienced an increase in enrolment, because there’s essential workers who need their children cared for. So, our enrolments have increased since 17th of the …
Zempilas: … Okay. Give us your …
Caller Brody: … So, what I’m asking …
Zempilas: … Yeah, go on. Give us both the points and then we’ll get the Minister to answer.
Caller Brody: Yeah, yeah. Just, what I’m getting at, so an increase in enrolments compared to what the date of where they’re actually saying they’re going to base the payments off of.
So, they’re, our educators are actually experiencing a more than 50 per cent drop in income.I’ll give you one situation. I’m not going to name any names. One of our educators had a stillbirth. I’m really heartbroken for her. And, that happened just prior to that fortnight. So, that fortnight that her income is now going to be based off is extremely low, compared to what she earned.
Mills: Alright. Okay, Brody. Thank you. Minister, have you got a response to that?
Tehan: I do. And, thank you for your call Brody, and please pass on my sympathies, as well, to that educator. That’s obviously been a very, very trying time for her the last few months. Can I say that there will be a full briefing for the family day care sector from the Department this afternoon. We understand that there are some unique circumstances which face the family day care sector and, in some cases, there will have been further enrolments. And, so, what we have done is calibrate this package to account for all those circumstances. Your sector will be briefed. We, obviously, in calibrating it also to the JobKeeper payment, we’ve got to see and understand who qualifies for that, and who doesn’t. Sole traders do, and a lot of family day care are sole traders. But, once we’ve got clear guidance on that, it will enable us to further calibrate for the family day care sector. So, we understand that there will be some unique circumstances. We’ll be briefing that part of the sector this afternoon, and working with them to make sure that this package, as best it can, works for them, as well as the rest of the sector.
Zempilas: Alright. So, this goes through, I deal with the child care provider. I don’t have to deal with the Government. Is that correct?
Tehan: So, that’s right. All you need to do is now deal with the provider directly.
Mills: Minister, just before you go. We just spoke to Dr Clay Golledge, who’s our local expert professional in the infectious diseases space, and he was saying, clearly for his colleagues – the nurses, the doctors – who need their kids looked after, this is vital. However, it shouldn’t be a dumping ground for other parents who can look after their kids, but think, ‘Oh well, this is great, free child care. Let’s take the kids there and we can get a bit of a breather one day a week,’ or something like that. Would you agree with that?
Tehan: That’s right. Look, we’ve put three priorities that we want for this initiative, and that is those people who need their children cared for while they’re working, they don’t have any other alternatives. For vulnerable children, who are those children who go to child care centres to get the care that they need. And, we want to make sure that they can continue to get that. And, then, for those who are, who were enrolled with a centre and using the centre, but whether they might have been laid off or whether they might have had some other concerns, and have unenrolled their children. That’s what we want the priority to be, and we’ve set that out in the Ministerial Rules. If people can use common sense and understand all of us need to work together to get through this.
Zempilas: And, that’s reassuring to hear, because when we heard that example earlier from Brody, we need a little bit of flexibility. Dan, thanks for your time this morning. Good luck going forward. Dan Tehan there, Federal Minister for Education