Media Release by The Hon Mal Brough MP

Child care overhaul to boost quality

Families and Community Services Minister Mal Brough today announced a major overhaul of child care accreditation in Australia to help parents feel confident their children are receiving high quality care.

Officially opening the National Family Day Care Conference 2006 in Alice Springs, Mr Brough said the changes would strengthen and improve the Quality Assurance system.

“From July 1, child care centres seeking to be accredited will no longer be told the date of their assessment, which will ensure services consistently provide a quality service not just when they are inspected,” Mr Brough said.

“In addition the National Childcare Accreditation Council (NCAC) will introduce random spot visits within the next 12 months on child care services across Australia, ensuring services meet standards and quality improvements are maintained on a day-to-day basis.

“It is my intention to provide greater certainty to parents that good quality care is being achieved not only on the day of accreditation but is maintained every day.”

Mr Brough said he has also asked the NCAC to recruit assessors on a full-time basis to ensure consistency and boost its capacity to carry out the increased number of visits and spot checks.

The NCAC will also be simplifying the Child Care Quality Assurance process by creating uniform system, which will fold the current Quality Assurance systems for Long Day Care, Outside School Hours Care and Family Day Care into a single system.

“Before any changes are implemented we will conduct a consultation process with child care workers, child care services, community organisations and families,” Mr Brough said.

“I will also continue to pursue the state and territory Ministers to ensure licensing and regulations are in place, and that minimum standards are consistent and enforced.

“Parents deserve to know that their children are in a safe environment.”

Mr Brough used the conference to further explain the Howard Government’s 2006-07 Budget initiatives on child care, including the groundbreaking decision to uncap FDC and OSHC.

“The uncapping of FDC and OSHC places means that these services are free to expand, new services can be created and both can offer Child Care Benefit places, as long as they meet the criteria,” Mr Brough said.

The Howard Government is investing a record $9.5 billion for child care and the 2006-07 Budget did even more. The Government also increased JET funding so that income support parents moving back into the workforce face few out of pocket child care costs. Mr Brough said the Howard Government has more than doubled the number of funded places from 300,000 under Labor to an expected 700,000 by 2009-10.