Media Release by The Hon Mal Brough MP

2006-07 Budget – More child care places in Australia

Parents will have unprecedented access to Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) and Family Day Care (FDC) places in one of the biggest changes to child care in Australia.

Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough said today the 2006-07 Budget will see the removal of the cap on OSHC and FDC places from July 1, 2006, resulting in 99 per cent of all child care places now being uncapped.

This means that all new OSHC and FDC services will be automatically eligible for Child Care Benefit (CCB), provided they meet relevant criteria, including state and territory licensing requirements.

“This unprecedented initiative will deliver Australian families with more places and more choices as parents balance work and family,” Mr Brough said.

“The move will provide parents with more options and allow the child care sector to be more flexible, and more responsive to demand for child care in the local community.”

Mr Brough said parents will benefit from subsidised child care places through CCB as services will now be able to set up at any location provided they meet criteria, including state and territory licensing and regulation requirements.

“Australian families will have greater access to child care as the Government has committed $60.2 million over four years to support parents who will use the extra OSHC and FDC places,” Mr Brough said.

Previously, OSHC and FDC places were limited and allocated by the Australian Government to areas of demand.

“The changes mean that the Howard Government will not restrict Outside School Hours Care and Family Day Care places. This will then be consistent with Long Day Care (LDC), which is currently uncapped,” Mr Brough said.

“Importantly, the changes mean that child care services wanting to expand will have instant access to places.

“Services which have applications in for the additional 14,650 places currently available will have these approved from July 1, 2006, provided they meet all the requirements and standards.

“Parents should be reassured that there will be no compromise on quality as services will still have to meet the required state and territory regulations to ensure families receive the standard of care they expect and deserve.”

Child care – uncapping outside school hours care and family day care

Why is this important?

The uncapping of Child Care Benefit approved Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) and Family Day Care (FDC) places will allow the OSHC and FDC sectors to be more responsive to changes in demand.

Who will benefit?

Both families and service providers will benefit from this measure. Service providers will be free to offer places, provided they meet the suitability criteria for operating child care, without going through an application process. Families will benefit through the broadening of the OSHC sector, allowing them greater choice of location and providers.

FDC services will be able to broaden their business base by actively competing to recruit carers as FDC regional boundaries will be removed.

FDC carers will be free to choose to work with the FDC service of their choice, rather than being limited to the FDC service in their area.

What funding is the Government committing to the initiative?

The Government will provide $60.2 million over four years.

What have we done in the past?

Until now, the Australian Government determined how many OSHC and FDC places could be allocated in a particular year and in which area. This approach is inflexible and arbitrary when demand is greater than that limit. The new system will mean existing and new OSHC and FDC services can be fully responsive to unmet demand where it exists.

Also, previously, FDC services were only allowed to operate within specified boundaries, with a limit on the number of FDC places available to them. The new system will remove these boundaries, freeing up FDC services to compete for carers.

When will the initiative conclude?

This measure will be ongoing.