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Word’s getting around: JFF will hurt disadvantaged children

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It might have taken a while to go mainstream, but the fears continually expressed by the whole sector about the Jobs for Families package are showing up in more and more news reports.  In this article from the Sydney Morning Herald today,

Childcare changes more likely to hit low to middle-income families

journalist Stephanie Peatling used figures provided to her under Freedom of Information legislation to declare, “The major losers under the Turnbull government’s revamp of childcare payments will be low to middle-income families”.

Worth repeating

While the article doesn’t add much detail to the calculations and arguments already at play – showing 161,003 low to middle-income families will be worse off – sector advocates know there is value in repeating this information, over and over again.  The key advocacy bodies met in Sydney last week at a symposium to share information and find common ground that will strengthen each group’s dealings with government.

CELA CEO, Diane Lawson, who attended the symposium, said 2018 was a crucial year for advocacy on funding and inclusion.

“We are discussing our collective response to the Lifting Our Game report and the Australian Government’s 12 month rollover of the National Partnership Agreement for preschool funding,” she told Amplify.

“A key focus of the afternoon was to discuss collective action and what we can all agree on, which is actually very broad.

“Traditionally this sector has often splintered when it tries to oppose poor policy. We have held tight to our differences rather than embracing similarities.

“With problems of this magnitude, however, it’s good news for every Australian child that we are working towards putting a largely united position together.”

Political positions

Labor’s childcare spokeswoman, Amanda Rishworth, told the Sydney Morning Herald that Jobs for Families changes will lead to children from low socio-economic backgrounds spending less time in early education.

“There are some families who won’t be able to afford early education and care and their kids will miss out. The government is ignoring the benefits of early education and they are making this about workforce participation,” Ms Rishworth said.

Families who receive less assistance are likely to do so because they do not meet the new activity test which requires people to work or study for a certain number of hours a week in order to qualify for assistance.

Source: SMH

The Government’s view, however, is that rather than take up fewer hours of subsidised early learning, the families of those children will instead increase their hours of work or study so that they do meet the activity test and become eligible for higher levels of assistance.

Childcare and Education Minister Simon Birmingham says the new system will encourage more than 230,000 families to work or study more.

“Our plan supports families that need it the most by better targeting subsidies to people earning the least and to families working the most. Is Labor saying they want to allow families to access taxpayer subsidies for child care when they aren’t working, studying, volunteering or even bothering to look for a job?” Senator Birmingham said.

“We make no apologies for increasing childcare subsidies to those Australians working the hardest but doing it the toughest, to allow them to work more hours or take more of their wage home each week.”

Source: SMH

Your advocacy matters

“Grassroots advocacy is more important than ever,” Diane said.

“We will collect and share your views on the JFF package and the Lifting Our Game report, but we strongly urge you to spend a few minutes each week writing an email, or a tweet, or a Facebook message directly to your local Federal member of parliament too.

“If you can give them examples of the way the activity test will affect disadvantaged children in your care, that’s very powerful advocacy. Local MPs respond more to local contact than to national media, and we need both kinds of advocacy in action if we are to influence policy decisions.”

Catch up reading

Lifting Our Game Report released

There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Simon, dear Simon

Rattler+Broadside Issue 124 Our Missing Preschool Year



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Bec Lloyd is the founder and managing director of Bec & Call Communication, providing professional writing, editing and strategy services to the school and early childhood education sector since 2014. In 2018 she launched UnYucky mindset and menus for happier family mealtimes. Formerly the communications lead at ACECQA and BOS (now NESA), Bec is a journo and mother of three who produces Amplify for us at Community Early Learning Australia.

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