FiveAA Breakfast with David and Will – government’s child care snap back

Wednesday, 10 June 2020

WILL GOODINGS, HOST: Amanda Rishworth good morning to you.


DAVID PENBERTHY, HOST: Thanks for joining us Amanda. What are your predictions about what the impact is going to be, because I would’ve thought even setting Jobkeeper aside, how can the Government guarantee the viability of so many centres when we’ve seen this collapse in national income? Meaning that when it ceases to be free a lot of people, women in particular, are going to say well we can’t go anymore?

RISHWORTH: You’re absolutely right and in Australia we’ve got a very high cost of child care, and so I am very worried that what we’re going to see is a whole lot of children have to be withdrawn from early education and care because families simply can’t afford it. I mean when you look at underemployment, unemployment, but also people that have just taken a pay cut, there’s so many people out there who have agreed with their businesses to take a pay cut, to then have this cost of living pressure put back on people. I think it’s going to be very worrying for children, very worrying for families, and not great for the sector either.

GOODINGS: The Federal Government has just committed $708 million through to October to transition people back to the former model, why is that not enough?

RISHWORTH: Well firstly that money is going just to centres so that doesn’t go to any fee relief for parents. So the first issue is parents are going to have to pay the same sorts of fees we saw prior to the pandemic, which had gone up by 7 per cent in the year when the data was most recently available. So first parents getting none of that money.

Secondly we’re not sure how that will be distributed to staff, so there are questions. It is less than the quantum for Jobkeeper, so it is less money to support staff than Jobkeeper. And really, it is going to vary from centre to centre about whether or not that will be enough to keep their doors open.

But I’m particularly worried about families, because families have a significant reduction in what is available to them now and children shouldn’t have to suffer because they can’t afford to send them to child care. And in particular that year before school is critically important.

PENBERTHY: Yeah it’s sort of an entry to preschool these days for a lot of kids. Do you think that there’s going to be a pretty obvious gender divide for what this means for people in the workforce, ie for a lot of women they’re just going to well crikey if I’ve got to pay full tote odds for four days a week of child care or three days a week of child care, where 80 per cent of what I earn goes on the fees, what’s the point, I’ll just quit.

RISHWORTH: Absolutely and what’s really worrying as we start coming out of this pandemic, we’ve already heard stories of families crunching and numbers and saying look I’ve been offered an extra shift but it’s not worth taking it. And it’s predominantly women that don’t take these extra shifts or extra work. So it’s actually going to be a problem for the economy as a whole if we have women not participating and not able to take extra shifts. There will be a lot of people particularly women that just say it’s not worth my while, and I think that’s really concerning. And I think it will be, as I’ve said a number of times, a handbrake on economic recovery.

PENBERTHY: Amanda Rishworth Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Education, thanks for joining us this morning.

RISHWORTH: Thank you.


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