NSW government makes big changes to childcare and paid parental leave

NSW government to invest billions in childcare and paid parental leave

Matt Kean

The New South Wales government has promised to reduce childcare costs and boost the number of places available for families, with a massive $5 billion investment in the sector over a decade.

It comes just days after the state announced improvements to paid parental leave for public sector workers.

Under changes to the early childhood education and care sector, the NSW government will provide funding to private operators to expand, hire staff and build new centres, designed to create 47,000 new places for children, and save families up to $3,900 per year.

$775 million has been promised over the next four years for the initiative and will be included in the state government’s budget, due to be handed down next week. The changes follow a recommendation from the Women’s Economic Opportunities Review, chaired by President of Chief Executive Women, Sam Mostyn.  

NSW Treasurer Matt Kean said the policy aims to provide affordable, accessible childcare for families across the state, and aims to remove barriers to women’s full participation in the paid workforce.

“We’re addressing the shortfall in supply and we’re making sure that we’re investing in our kids and also giving women the opportunity to participate fully in our economy,” Kean told Channel 7’s Sunrise on Tuesday morning.

“No woman should have to choose between having a family and having a career. This policy will go a long way to addressing that.

“It will grow the overall size of the economy by $17 billion and raise household incomes for everyone across the state by around $4000 a year.”

Kean said the program will start in the next financial year and will be delivered in addition to the upcoming changes to the childcare subsidy already announced by the federal government.

The NSW government’s push to improve childcare affordability follows a separate announcement of changes to paid parental leave for public sector workers.

On Sunday, the Perrottet government said it would overhaul the paid parental leave scheme in the public sector, removing the ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ carer distinctions, and offering an additional 2 weeks of leave to parents who equally share the entitlements.

It means all parents working the NSW public sector will be entitled to 14 weeks’ paid parental leave, with the potential to receive an additional 2 weeks. The changes are due to kick in from October.

The changes will also expand the window in which public servants can take paid parental leave from one year to two years after birth. Long-term and permanent foster carers will now also be eligible.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said the paid parental leave overhaul was part of his government’s commitment to supporting families in the state, as well as encouraging fathers to take up paid parental leave opportunities.

“While most parents across Australia are entitled to paid primary parental leave, only 12 per cent of those who take it are men,” Perrottet said. “Supporting all parents to spend more precious days with their newborn children helps them form bonds that last a lifetime.”

Matt Kean said the government hopes the private sector will follow the approach on paid parental leave.

 “Children don’t see their parents as ‘primary carers’ or ‘secondary carers’ – just as mums or dads,” he said.

“Encouraging more dads to take up parental leave is crucial to supporting all parents to be able to choose to have a career, have a family or have both.”

Stay Smart! Get Savvy!

Get Women's Agenda in your inbox