Minister for Education Dan Tehan interview with Hamish Macdonald and Susie Youssef, The Project
SUBJECTS: Return to the Child Care Subsidy, Schools in Victoria and coronavirus
Hamish Macdonald: Minister, what are the chances that your Government’s going to give a bit more assistance to parents, and, also, to child care centres, over the coming months?
Dan Tehan: So, we’re working with the child care sector to make sure that we’re providing the assistance that they need, and that parents are getting assistance they need, to get themselves through this pandemic. And, if you look at the rest of the world, what we’ve been able to achieve here, in Australia, is quite extraordinary. Ninety-nine per cent of our child care providers have remained open right throughout the pandemic, providing that care that we need for our young children. And, I must say, on behalf of the Australian Government, I say to the child care sector, and to all those early childhood educators, thank you very much for what you’ve done through the pandemic to provide that care and that education to our young children.
Macdonald: It’s clear that doing that’s enabled a lot of people to continue working, and your Government now says that the number one priority for this country is to get people back into work. Do you acknowledge that, actually, this whole child care issue has a huge impact on whether or not people can get back to work?
Tehan: Well, one of the things that we were hearing from the sector, and from parents, was that they weren’t able to get that access to child care, as demand grew – as demand grew to 74 per cent. And, we needed to make sure that all providers, right across the nation, could provide that increase in care that was needed, as demand came back into the system. So, that’s why we’ve put this transitional arrangement in place, where we’re continuing to provide additional support for the sector, and, also, putting in place support for parents and families, as well.
Susie Youssef: Dan, you’ve always told us that schools and child care centres are safe. The Government has continued to say that throughout this. But, the outbreak at Al-Taqwa College in Melbourne would suggest otherwise. So, are schools actually safe?
Tehan: They are safe, and that’s what the medical expert panel has told us right throughout this pandemic. And, we’ve continued to listen to them, and to their advice. Obviously, we need to put the proper protocols in place, especially when it comes to teachers, and the medical experts continue to work on that, to make sure that we’re doing everything we can, in particular, to keep our teachers safe. But, the, we have said all along, and been very consistent, that we would take the advice of the medical experts, and, they’ve said, that it is safe for our child care centres to operate, and for our schools to be open.
Macdonald: Minister Tehan, thanks so much for your time tonight.