MP CALLS FOR URGENT INTERVENTION TO FIX ‘CHILDCARE DESERT’

Thursday, 21 September 2023

NORTHERN Tablelands MP Adam Marshall turned a spotlight on the dire lack of childcare services in the region last night, when he spoke on the floor of State Parliament, calling for urgent action to address a ‘childcare desert’.

Mr Marshall called out the failure of successive Federal Governments in how support and subsidies to parents and the industry are failing across the board. with a 40 per cent decrease in childcare providers in NSW resulting in some communities left with no access to a single childcare place.

“It is incredible to get your head around the fact that right now in our region, unless parents book their child into childcare when they first fall pregnant, they will absolutely go onto a minimum year-long, 18-month long or, in some cases that I am aware of, two-year long waiting list just for a place in a long day care centre,” Mr Marshall said.

“COVID delivered a population revival in some regional areas and along with the economic benefits that these newcomers have brought, they have also placed additional pressure on local services, and in particular, early childhood education.

“Available long day care places in the bush were very rare prior to the pandemic, but now there are simply absolutely none.”

The MP pointed to a report released last year from Victoria University’s Mitchell Institute, which mapped the availability of centre-based day care in 50,000 communities across Australia.

The report used the term ‘childcare desert’ to describe a populated area where there are more than three children per childcare place, or less an 0.33 places per child under four.

“Based on that definition, the entire Northern Tablelands is not just a desert, it is absolutely barren, with not a skerrick of day care vegetation in site and absolutely zero prospect at the moment of any day care green shoots springing up any time soon,” Mr Marshall said.

The MP is calling on the Federal Government to get out of the way and allow the states to resume full control of the industry and delivery of these vital services.

“Why shouldn’t State and Territory governments control a child’s learning from ABC right through to the HSC?” Mr Marshall asked.

“That would be much simpler, much easier to regulate and much easier to fund.

“Unless we fix long day care, we will not be able to attract people to our regions, and our regions will suffer.

“We need those services in place and the Federal Government needs to step up to the mark or get out of the way and allow the States to run it and fix it.”

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