Over the weekend, Prime Minister Scott Morrison indicated the government intends to wind back free childcare on June 28, despite originally indicating the arrangement would be in place for six months, til September.
Worried parents are now calling on the federal government to halt its plans to ‘snap back’ to the old childcare system in June, saying it would “pull the rug” out from underneath already struggling families.
Leading parents advocacy organisation The Parenthood is launching a campaign this week calling on the government to urgently fix the early childhood education sector. Protecting centres on the brink of collapse, ensuring children can access the education and care they need, and helping families adjust to a new normal, should be priorities.
Women’s Agenda contributing editor and Board Director of The Parenthood Georgie Dent says hundreds of thousands of parents are “deeply worried.”
“More than 600,000 Australians lost work last month alone, and now hundreds of thousands of those are deeply worried about reports the government is planning to “snap back” to a childcare arrangement that was already deeply flawed,” Dent said.
“To simply “snap back” to the old system is pulling the rug out from under families, just as they’re starting to get going again. It will be disastrous.”
Dent says “snapping back” to the old system will compromise the sector’s ability to survive and is not sustainable in the long run for centres or parents.
According to The Parenthood, a great step the government could make now is to increase the payments to centres from 50 per cent of pre-COVID19 revenue to 75 per cent.
“We can’t hope to get the economy going again when parents are faced with the choice of being able to work to get food on the table, or being able to put their kids into early childhood education and care,” Dent said.
When the childcare reforms were announced six weeks ago, Morrison said: “This virus is going to take enough from Australians without putting Australian parents in that position of having to choose between the economic wellbeing of their family or the care and support and education of their children.”
But the rumours of the government ‘snapping back’ to the old system will leave parents having to make exactly that choice, Dent says.
“We have a chance, in the next few weeks, to make the system strong enough that it can support all of us – we should act on it urgently and strive for something better.”