SUBJECTS: Coronavirus and Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package, Schools
Leon Byner: Let’s talk about child care for a moment, and talk to the Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan. Dan, thanks for joining us today.
Dan Tehan: Pleasure Leon. Always great to be with you and your listeners.
Byner: Now, let’s work out how this system is going to work. Now, currently, you’ve got a lot of parents who’ve deliberately taken their children out of school, and I don’t know that they will want to go back to sending their children to school. And, if they don’t go back to sending their children to school, they won’t need child care. So, can you explain to the people of SA, as Education Minister, how this program of assistance is going to work, and who it will most effect?
Tehan: So, it’s designed to help those who are working and putting their children into child care at the moment, while they’re working. We want to make sure that they will be able to continue to do that. We also want to make sure that those vulnerable children who are accessing child care can continue to do it, so they get that continuity of care that they so dearly need. And, then, what we want is parents who might have disengaged from child care – either because of economic reasons, they might have unfortunately or sadly lost their jobs due to restrictions that have been put in place, or they might have been uncertain around health advice – so, we want them also to be able to reengage with their centre. So, there’s two key priorities here. A – We want those who need to have their children looked after at the moment can continue to get that care that they need. But, also, we want to make sure that those who might have disengaged from the sector, reengage. Because, when we come through this in six months, we want to make sure that our child care centres are still there, have been viable through this pandemic, and ready to help support us as we grow the economy back to where it was, and, hopefully, beyond that, once we’ve got through the pandemic.
Byner: Now, Dan, just again. The child care centre will get an amount of money from the Government?
Tehan: That is correct.
Byner: Is each centre going to get a flat amount, or is it based on whatever their business was, just before this happened?
Tehan: It’s based on whatever their business was in the fortnight prior to 2 March. So, the amount of pre-revenue that they got in that fortnight period, averaged, they will be paid 50 per cent of that amount, and it’s calibrated with the JobKeeper payment. 60 per cent of the cost of the sector are wages and, so, what we have done is calibrated this new system, so that there is the JobKeeper payment, and, then on top of that, they will get this new rate of child care assistance, that will go to each centre. And, the reason that we’ve completely redesigned the way the system operates is because we want to put the financial stability back in to the sector. So, as many centres as we possibly can have will remain open, and will be providing that care for those parents who need it.
Byner: As Education Minister, you’re in a very good position to answer this question. Although, the Feds provide money for education, but, of course, the states actually do the administration and running of them. But, we’ve got to ask you the question, which is so obvious. Very, very shortly we’ve got the Easter holidays, school holidays for children, too. Passed that point, are the schools, as we know them, going to reopen, or are we going to be told, well, that depends on what your state education governments want to do?
Tehan: So, what the current situation is, is that we’re expecting that it will be, that parents, where they can, will keep their children home, and it will be online learning. But, for those parents who need their children to attend school, whether it be for work, or whether they need it for caring purposes, they will, schools will be open, and those students will be able to go to school to do their learning there. Now, that is the current arrangement. We continue to work with every state and territory government because, obviously, the final decision is ultimately theirs, because schools are their jurisdictional responsibility. But, I had a meeting with all state and territory education ministers yesterday, we’re meeting again next week, and there will be more to say on what term two will look like in the coming days and weeks. But, that is the way the current arrangement is set up to work for term two.
Byner: Alright. Dan Tehan, thank you for joining us today. You’ve clarified these matters. Education Minister, Dan Tehan.