Wednesday, 23 March 2022
NORTHERN Tablelands MP Adam Marshall has used a speech on the floor of State Parliament overnight to call for major reform to the childcare sector, in a bid to create more positions and affordable options for desperate families across the region.
Mr Marshall was prompted by a number of recent representations from families who had relocated the electorate during the pandemic, only to find themselves unable to get their children into care.
“Currently there is an extreme shortage of childcare places in the 0 to 3 years age group, which is placing extreme stress on families and preventing some parents from going back to work,” Mr Marshall said.
“The Commonwealth-led model for funding and delivering long daycare is messier than a child’s playroom and needs a complete overhaul.
“The majority of long daycare is provided by the private sector, with the Commonwealth supporting the cost of sending children through the Child Care Subsidy.
“If this model is to continue, the Federal Government must spend considerably more incentivising existing, privately run centres to expand and create more 0-3 year old positions.
“That said, it’s not going to look at this matter more closely, get out of the way and let the State Government to get involved.
“NSW already funds community preschool education for 3 to 5 year olds, so why not investigate new models of funding 0 to 3 years as well? This would mean the State having end-to-end control of our children’s learning – from ABC to HSC.
“A lot of work is needed to develop a system that would be successful, but we must start having that conversation now.”
Mr Marshall said the current way of operating is having a dramatic effect on parents, in particular mothers’, ability to fully engage in the workforce.
“It is clear that a shortage of childcare spaces, combined with the existing Commonwealth Child Care Subsidy, is acting as a disincentive for women to go back to work more than part-time,” he said.
“The rate childcare is subsidised is based on a household’s income and type of care a family uses.
“Mothers from middle to high income households wanting to increase their days of work beyond three per week would actually lose money by working extra, because of additional unsubsidised cost – they are better off financially to stay at home.
“The future of regional workforces is at stake here and the only way that can be secured, is if there is serious reform to make the early-childhood sector more accessible, flexible and affordable.”