Subjects: Coronavirus and Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package, Schools, Year 12 students
Natalie Barr: One million Australian families are being offered free child care, so parents can keep going to work during the coronavirus crisis and the child care industry doesn’t collapse. The new system comes into effect next week, and does away with previous means testing. But, there will be a priority list for those most in need, and the measures will only last until the end of the coronavirus pandemic. Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan joins me now. Morning to you, Minister. Tell us, who is at the top of that …
Dan Tehan: … Morning, Natalie. Great to be with you.
Barr: Who’s at the top of that priority list? Who gets the free child care?
Tehan: Well, we want those who are working to be able to continue to have access to child care. We need everyone who’s working to be able to get the care that they need for their children, at the child care centre that they are used to sending their children to. So, that’s why we’ve put this package together. We also want to make sure that vulnerable children get the continuity of care that they need. And, then, for those who have existing enrolments who might have decided, because of work, the loss of work, because of the health, worries about health, that they’ve taken their enrolment away from a centre, we want those parents to reengage with their child care centre, as well.
Barr: So, you just ring up your child care centre and check, do you?
Tehan: That’s right. Well, if you’ve got an existing arrangement – if you’re working and if your children are being dropped off at the centre – those existing arrangements, they just continue, but you will not be charged, as of next week. If you have unenrolled your children, then ring your centre, reengage with the centre. Even if you are going to be keeping your children at home, we want you to keep the relationship with your child care centre through the pandemic. So, when we get through this, you will be able to go back to the normal arrangements that you have, back to work, and back to using your child care centre.
Barr: Minister, we had so many parents withdrawing their kids from school, the Prime Minister says, wrongly, because they thought their kids were going to get coronavirus. So, do you think parents will use this new facility?
Tehan: Look, that is our hope. We want those workers who are working to be able to do it. We want those who have taken their children out, to reengage with their child care centre. We are taking the very best medical advice from a medical expert panel, made up from state and territory chief medical officers, from the Commonwealth medical officers. They are saying it’s safe to send your children to child care. They’re saying it’s safe to send your children to school. So, we want parents to continue to be able to use those resources, to keep educating their children during the pandemic. And, now, when it comes to child care, we’re saying you can do it for free.
Barr: Okay. The next thing on your list, some clarity around Year 12. What is happening with that?
Tehan: Well, I met with state and territory education ministers yesterday. We’ll be meeting again next week. What we want to do is to be able to provide certainty for all those Year 12 students about what this year will look like, and what the pathway into – whether it be university, whether it be vocational education, or work next year – will look like for them. So, there’ll be a further meeting next week to discuss this. All the state and territory curriculum boards are considering what, and assessment boards, are looking at what they need to be doing to be able to give certainty to those Year 12 students. So, can I say to all those Year 12 students out there who had their year turned on its head, ‘You’re our next priority, to be able to provide certainty to you as to what this year will look like, and what your pathways into your future will look like. And, we’re seeking to do that over the coming weeks.’
Barr: Okay. That affects a lot of people, so we might check back with you after that big meeting. Thanks very much, Minister.
Tehan: Been a pleasure Natalie.