By Michele Carnegie, CELA CEO
The ACCC Childcare Inquiry’s much anticipated final report makes the case for bold reforms to unlock the potential of early childhood education and care for children, families and our broader economy.
We ensured that the voice of community and small providers of early education was heard by contributing to the inquiry in multiple ways. It is very pleasing to see the ACCC’s Final Report refer to our robust joint submission with Community Child Care Association (CCC) throughout, highlighting the importance of investing in greater access to high quality services for children and families.
The Federal Treasurer asked the ACCC to examine four different types of childcare services, each of which are eligible for the Child Care Subsidy – centre based day care, family day care, outside school hours care and in home care.
The ACCC explored current prices, costs and profits in the childcare market, drawing on significant input and data from providers, peak bodies and community organisations across Australia.
The ACCC’s analysis shows that demand side funding does not work. A "one size fits all" approach is letting children and families down, particularly in regional, remote and disadvantaged communities.
They recommended state and federal governments reassess their objectives and priorities in relation to early education and care policies.
- We are advocating for governments to establish children’s access to high quality services as their primary objective for education and care. This would create a system with maximum flow-on benefits from government investment, including workforce participation, social equity and economic growth.
The ACCC also proposed the Federal Government consider removing the Child Care Subsidy Activity Test, something that CELA has advocated strongly for. This change, combined with targeted investment in small and community managed services, would unlock access to quality education and care where it is needed most. It would also boost the economic resilience of rural and regional communities by:
- creating new professionally paid jobs
- allowing parents to return to work or increase their hours
- attracting the workforce needed to grow their community.
Why it matters
This is the first major input to Federal Government reforms designed to set our sector up for the future by delivering:
- access to places where they are needed
- a sustainable qualified workforce
- the right mix of services for communities
- minimum quality and inclusion standards
- quality services that are affordable for families.
Our mission is to ensure every child can benefit from high quality education and care, regardless of where they live or how much their parents earn.
That’s why CELA has led the way, advocating for a sector that is ready for the future with universal access, professional wages and a stronger community sector.
The Federal Government will now consider the ACCC’s recommendations in the lead up to the 2024 Budget. CELA will continue to work with governments to turn these big ideas into reality.
This report, as well as other major reviews like the Productivity Commission’s ECEC inquiry, will help the Federal Government to make decisions on how to best support children, families and the early childhood education and care sector.
READ THE FULL REPORT
READ CELA'S SUBMISSION