State and federal governments fail early childhood sector

The recent NSW state budget and the proposed federal changes to childcare have provided little good news to the early education sector.

State budget

Once again state expenditure for early education and care has not been increased. In fact in the last year the state government has admitted that they have underspent some $98.2 million dollars.

The previous Minister for Early Education, Adrian Piccoli promised that once money was available NSW would increase its expenditure on early education.

In response to a question in Parliament, current Minister for Early Childhood Education Leslie Williams was forced to admit that between 2012 and 2015 the actual increase in funding was less than half the rate claimed by the Government.

Given that the state has budgeted for surpluses for the next four years surely some of this money should be spent on the citizens of the future so that they can become productive members of society.

NSW continues to underspend compared to other states on early childhood education.

Federal changes

Changes to the federal government childcare package see a dramatic shift away early childhood education to early childhood care. Childcare is now part of the Department of Social Services rather than the Education Department.

The focus is not on quality early childhood experiences for children but rather on workforce participation. Parents must pass a stricter activity test before being able to access Child Care Benefit (parents must work at least eight hours a fortnight to access the lowest amount of government subsidy).

The Commonwealth has recently released a RIS (Regulation Impact Statement) on the changes to the childcare system. We would encourage members to read and comment on the changes and the effect it will have on their service.

Verena Heron
Industrial Officer