Sunday, 12 July 2020
We are on the eve of the Morrison Government’s child care snap-back – meaning families across Australia are anxiously awaiting the upcoming hit to their household budgets.
Tomorrow morning families across the country will wake up and recommence paying child care fees, with no extra support from the Morrison Government to bring down out of pocket costs.
The Morrison Government’s decision to snap-back to their old, pre-pandemic child care system as of tomorrow has left many Australian families wondering how they will get by.
Families were already being crippled by high child care fees before the pandemic, with out of pocket costs soaring by 7.2 per cent in one year alone. Now in the middle of a recession, when parents are relying on mortgage and rent moratoriums, JobKeeper and JobSeeker to survive, child care fees will be out of reach for many.
If families cannot afford early education and care, it will hurt:-
Without access to affordable care, many parents will be forced to give up or turn down work – a sacrifice that is most often taken by women.
In the midst of a recession, the last thing our economy needs is working parents being unable to take up work because they cannot find child care.
Unaffordable child care means some children will miss out on receiving an early education, which is of particular concern for four year olds who are at risk of starting primary school in 2021 behind.
We know vulnerable and at-risk children, who stand to benefit the most from an early education, will be the first to miss out.
If families begin un-enrolling their children from early learning and care, the resulting drop in demand will create significant viability issues for providers.
We are also one week away from JobKeeper being ripped away from early educators, and the current situation in Victoria has shone a light on why early educators still need support to stay connected to their employers.
Without JobKeeper, there is no guarantee that early educators will continue to get paid if Victorian providers are forced to close due to a drop in demand or potential government directive. If a provider shuts its doors, early educators could be pushed into Centrelink queues instead of receiving JobKeeper payments.
The Morrison Government has bungled early education and care throughout this pandemic, and it is parents, children, educators and providers who have paid the price every step of the way.
Their “free child care” policy left many providers struggling to stay afloat and families without access to care. Now their snap-back and removal of JobKeeper will create further pain for families and the sector.
Australians need an early education and care system that ensures early learning is affordable and accessible for families, keeps educators in jobs and protects the viability of providers.