Media Release by The Hon Mal Brough MP

Victoria’s child care priority is all wrong

The Victorian Labor Government’s committee on child care waiting lists will duplicate Australian Government work while ignoring important health and safety issues, Families and Community Services Minister Mal Brough said today.

Responding to the Victorian Government’s announcement of a taskforce to identify the number of children on the state’s child care waiting list, Mr Brough said the Australian Government had already announced a real and practical step toward better matching demand for child care with available places.

"I announced on April 2 an expansion of the Australian Government’s Child Care Access Hotline which will tell parents for the first time the availability of places in their local area," Mr Brough said.

The new Hotline will begin in July and the availability data will also enable the Government to better understand where the demand for child care is in Australia.

"However, regulation of childcare health and safety is firmly in the State’s responsibility but as yet Victoria does not have an adequate licensing and regulatory system for Outside School Hours Care and Family Day Care," Mr Brough said.

"The State Government announced in December 2004 that it would introduce new regulations for OSHC services in Victoria but it has yet to do so."

In 1995 Victoria signed up to the adoption of National Care Standards but have yet to actually do it.

"A higher priority for the Victorian State Government should be to regulate and license services already being attended by children long before setting up a talkfest to duplicate work already in progress," Mr Brough said.

Mr Brough said he has written to his State and Territory counterparts, asking them to report progress on the application of National Standards for child care and what active regulatory work is being done in the sector.

Child care places have doubled under the Howard Government to 600,000 over the past 10 years and a record $9.5 billion has been earmarked for child care over the four years to 2008-09.