Tuesday, 20 February 2018
We all know finding child care is a challenge, but paying for it is an even bigger challenge. Unfortunately, the Liberal Government is about to make those costs an even bigger burden for more than 1,340 families in Darwin alone. Across the NT 1,924 families will soon be paying more for childcare, or losing benefits entirely.
Is your family one of them?
Tomorrow I’ll join local MP and dad Luke Gosling at Nightcliff Early Learning Centre to talk about the impact of the Liberal Government’s changes for parents and educators.
Many families will soon be bearing the brunt of the Government’s complex new activity tests and income tests that will limit how much support they are entitled to.
Not only does this mean parents will be subjected to yet more bureaucracy from Canberra, it means that many will be cut off from support. The Government’s own figures estimate one in five families in Darwin will be worse off under the changes.
The Government pretends only high income will be worse off – but we know that’s not true.
The majority of those who will be worse off will be low and middle income earners.
For those earning less than $65,710, these families will see their access to child care cut in half to only 12 a week.
If you’re a single income family earning more than $65,710 the Government will slash the time it supports your child to spend in early education to zero.
How is that going to make it easier for families and ensure that children get the best possible start in life? For many kids it will mean lost opportunity for early learning, making friends and getting ready for school. Kids whose parents are doing their best despite lots of obstacles are likely the ones who will miss out.
The news for families in remote and rural Australia isn’t any better. The Liberal Government is refusing to confirm funding from July this year for remote child care and mobile playgroup services. There are 33 of these services in the Territory, and they provide vital access to early education for Indigenous families. Now these families face uncertainty about how their children will access education and care. Families in remote Australia need better access to services, and yet this government wants to take them away. These families will have no other services to turn to.
The latest backhander dealt to parents is in addition to the continuing uncertainty of the Federal Liberal’s commitment to four year old preschool. And whilst I welcome this last minute funding stop-gap, we need the federal government to demonstrate long term commitment to preschool. There is no doubt that four year olds going to preschool gives our children the best head start to school and for life. That is why Labor introduced this program.
In addition to listening to NT families about child care I will also be meeting with local servicemen and women, veterans and their families. With over 12,000 serving defence personnel and more than 2,500 veterans living up here it is important that they get the support they deserve while serving and after discharge.
On Thursday morning Luke and I will be hosting a veteran’s family forum to discuss the issues facing local families who have left the ADF. If you are a veteran, or know of one, you’re welcome to join us. I am determined to ensure that government is doing all it can to ensure these men and women are getting the support they have earned and deserve to transition out of the Services.
So there’s a lot to do and talk about while I’m up here. If you see me out and about, or having a coffee on Mitchell Street, please come say hello.
A shorter version of this piece was originally published in the NT News on Tuesday, 20 February 2018.