Department exposes government compliance policy is a plan to cut funding

Saturday, 13 October 2018

In Senate Estimates last week, the Department of Education and Training finally confirmed that the government is closing down Family Day Care services to meet savings targets.

This has long been suspected in the early childhood sector – and now the government has confirmed this is the case.

When asked how the Department was implementing the 2017-18 MYEFO compliance program, department officials confirmed:

SENATOR FOR WESTERN AUSTRALIA, SUE LINES:  So was the 151 services a target that you had to close?
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION OFFICIAL:  That is what we costed and the new policy measure that was supported.
LINES:  What do you mean that’s what you costed?
OFFICIAL:  That’s what we agreed with government. That was the budget of that MYEFO measure in the book.
LINES:  That’s what the $1 billion equals.
OFFICAL:  Yes. That’s what we did a calculation on to get $1 billion—that we would get 150, and we got 151.

Labor has supported efforts to shut down dodgy and illegal providers in Family Day Care. The frauds had to go. Labor will continue to support a legitimate and evidence based compliance program.

But with the Liberals now boasting of making savings of $2.8 billion from the sector, with another $1 billion in savings announced in the last MYEFO, it is now apparent the government is treating Family Day Care as an easy place to make budget savings. The Department was asked to go close down 150 providers, and have now closed 151 – a remarkable coincidence.

The Family Day Care sector is in freefall. The latest statistics from the Department show the number of children using Family Day Care fell 16.7 per cent over 12 months between the December 2016 and December 2017 quarters, and the number of Family Day Care providers fell 17.3 per cent.

Not-for-profit Family Day Care providers, rated as meeting and exceeding the national quality standards, who have been serving the community for decades, have been shut down to meet the government’s savings target.

Federal Labor recently announced a more collaborative approach to work with the Family Day Care sector – an approach that would be less adversarial and one which is focused on providing quality education, not savings targets.

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