Media Release by The Hon Larry Anthony MP

ACOSS Child Care Assumptions Wrong

ACOSS research released today on the costs of child care requires a good understanding of the fine print, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Larry Anthony, said.

“The assumptions ACOSS have made to come up with their figures in the area of child care requires a lot of qualification. Their ‘costs of care’ numbers not only include fees for centre based child care services when both parents work but also a calculation of ‘the minimum cost of sustaining the parent while she cares for a child at home.’ This is a strange and highly qualified calculation.

“In working out the cost of centre based child care, they acknowledge that they have manipulated figures from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and the Australian Bureau of Statistics. I strongly dispute ACOSS’ findings.

“They say that ‘the average cost of child care rose by 25 per cent from May 2003 to December 2004.’ Given we have not got to December 2004 yet, I can only assume that they have looked into a crystal ball to come up with this figure. Even without this typo, they are wrong.

“The facts are:

  • Child Care Benefit currently subsidises around 70 per cent of the total cost of child care to low income families paying average fees.
  • The Department of Family and Community Services recent census of child care services shows that average Long Day Care fees have increased by less than one per cent in real terms since 1999.
  • A family earning $30,000 a year with one child in 50 hours centre-based Long Day Care will pay average child care fees of around $194 per week. They will receive $137 per week from the Government in Child Care Benefit. This leaves a gap fee of $57.
  • A family earning $45,000 a year (with a main breadwinner on $30,000 and a part-time carer on $15,000) with 2 children using 30 hours centre-based Long Day Care each will pay average child care fees of around $249 per week. They will receive $164 per week in Child Care Benefit leaving a gap fee of $85 per week.

“Australian families are receiving more financial assistance to give them choice when it comes to making decisions about using child care. Our policies have made child care more affordable, accessible and flexible than ever before,” Mr Anthony said.