Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Minister addresses public meeting to support parents’ access to child care

The Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson today offered Port Phillip Council the opportunity to be part of the first trial of flexible family day care to help expand the range of child care options for parents.

Senator Patterson addressed the City of Port Phillip public forum on child care saying that for some time she had been calling for the three levels of government to work together more cooperatively to ensure families were provided with high quality child care.

“I intend to trial making family day care more flexible in meeting parents’ needs without compromising on quality by providing care in venues other than the carer’s home but make it clear that Local and State and Territory Governments also have a role to play when it comes to child care,” Senator Patterson said.

“Local Governments are best placed to know the local child care needs in their community and share responsibility for planning with State and Territory Governments, which are also responsible for licensing and quality assurance. For its part the Australian Government provides financial support to families using child care, with assistance topping $9.5 billion over the next four years.

“It is encouraging to see the Victorian Government acknowledging that it shares some responsibility for assisting families access child care.

“The fact that the Victorian Government is looking to establish a central register and work with local councils to identify where child care is most needed is an important step in the right direction.

“I am aware that there is waiting list in use at the moment in Port Phillip but it does not prevent double counting or include all services as I am advised that there are vacancies across all age ranges at child care centres in nearby areas.

“It will be vital that the proposed register avoids double counting, is regularly updated and maintained, and is used by the Victorian Government and local councils to plan effectively for the provision of child care services.

“State and Territory Governments need to be more innovative in their approach to providing premises suitable for child care – such as we have seen with child care being provided within existing school facilities – but much more can be done.

“The Howard Government will continue to assist families choosing to use child care where the service provider meets the state licensing regulations.”