Media Release by The Hon Mal Brough MP

In Home Care – The Way Forward

Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Mal Brough, today released the Final Evaluation Report: In Home Care and the initial Government response providing for a stronger and more flexible In Home Care system.

The In Home Care program was rolled out by the Howard Government in 2001 and provides a flexible option for families who cannot access existing child care services, such as those working shift or non-standard hours or those located in rural or remote communities who do not have a service available.

As a result of a number of identified quality and compliance issues, the Government undertook an internal review of the program in 2003, followed by an external review in 2005 at which time a moratorium on IHC places was implemented pending any outcomes of the review. Currently the Australian Government funds over 8,700 places in the In Home Care program.

Mr Brough said the Review and the response was consistent with the Howard Government’s focus on quality child care for families.

“It is important that every dollar of taxpayer funds for childcare provides for a safe and quality place. The changes I have announced today will enable families who need to use In Home Care to be assured of a higher quality service, targeted to meet their needs,” Mr Brough said.

“In Home Care is part of the Howard Government’s commitment to providing Australian families with a choice in child care.

“The quality of child care is a fundamental issue for the Australian Government. We are particularly concerned that In Home Care is not regulated by the majority of state governments – meaning there is no system to ensure services meet basic health and safety standards in the same way other formal care types have to.

“The Australian Government believes it is critical that In Home Care be regulated. While it is not a substitute for State regulation, as a first step forward the Australian Government will provide funding for the National In-Home Care Association to work with my Department to develop national standards, which will be in place by July 2007.

“In addition, In Home Care will progressively be brought under the Howard Government’s integrated child care Quality Assurance (QA) system which is being redeveloped.

“While this form of care will remain capped the moratorium on the allocation of new places will be lifted allowing existing service providers to expand services or new providers to offer In Home Care for the first time from next year.

“Additional network support funding will also be available for those services operating in rural and remote areas in recognition of the added costs involved, assisting their viability into the future.

“Because many reliable providers in the sector share the Australian Government’s concern about the potential for shonky operators to take advantage of the lack of State regulation, we will continue to work with the sector to protect children, families and carers. We will continue to review the program over the next twelve to eighteen months.

“I will also continue to press State and Territory Governments to provide suitable regulatory frameworks for In Home Care and, indeed, for other types of care where that does not exist,” Mr Brough said.

Mr Brough said the Howard Government has done more to help Australian families with child care than any previous government. There are currently around120,000 vacant child care places, 99% of the child care market is uncapped and these changes demonstrate our willingness to improve the flexibility of choice for parents.

A copy of the report is available at the Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs website or contact your FaCSIA State/Territory Office on 1300 653 227.