Media Release by The Hon Mal Brough MP

Australian first child care places hotline

Parents searching for a child care place will for the first time have access to a central hotline across Australia, Families and Community Services Minister Mal Brough announced today.

Mr Brough said parents will be able to find out the number of vacancies in their local area by telephoning the Child Care Access Hotline.

The Hotline currently only provides parents with information about the type of services in their area.

"From July 2006 parents telephoning the Child Care Access Hotline will for the first time be able to find the number of vacancies near where they live or work," Mr Brough said.

"Parents will be able to access availability information on all child care types, including long day care, family day care and outside school hours care.

"This initiative will provide parents with flexibility and enable them to spend less time trying to find a place for their child."

Under the plan, child care service providers will update their availability with the Child Care Access Hotline weekly via either the internet or telephone.

"Reporting requirements will have minimal impact on providers as they already know the availability of places," Mr Brough said.

"Access to child care availability data will also enable the Government to better understand where the demand for child care is in Australia."

Mr Brough said the initiative is in contrast to Labor’s cobbled together plan released last month in which they proposed the creation of 695 separate waiting lists controlled by local councils.

The number of child care places has doubled under the Howard Government to 600,000 over the past 10 years. The Child Care Access Hotline number is 1800 670 305.