Star 104.5 – child care

Friday, 13 November 2020

ERIN RAMSAY, HOST: Tell me a little about the importance of your visit to the Central Coast today.

AMANDA RISHWORTH, SHADOW MINISTER FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION AND DEVELOPMENT: Today, I’m going to be visiting the central coast because we’re going to be talking with child care centres and early educators about the importance of accessible, affordable child care for families. We know at the moment fees are going up significantly, in the last year March to March in the Central Coast area they went up over seven per cent – a lot of families are doing it tough. Also we’ll be talking to educators about our policy which we announced which will bring down the cost of child care.

RAMSAY: Just on that note, on the policy, could you just speak a little bit more about that and how it is expected to help the central coast community if it’s put in place.

RISHWORTH: What our policy is doing is firstly we’re going to increase the rebates for 97 per cent of families. Those at the lowest income levels will go up to 90 per cent of the rebate they’ll get back when they use child care, but other families will also see an increase. We’re also going to get rid of the annual cap. At the moment there’s an annual amount of subsidy you can get and after that families have to pay the full cost of child care and that’s meaning a lot of second income earners are saying ‘it’s not worth my while to work the fourth and the fifth day of the week’. So we’re removing that disincentive and helping families with fees so that as we move out of this recession families can afford to go back to work.

RAMSAY: And why is that so crucial? Particularly after the year that we’ve had so far with the pandemic and how that’s already affected a lot of families and particularly a lot of children who are in child care.

RISHWORTH: Absolutely, so in addition obviously to helping families be able to take up the extra shifts or take up the extra work, children have had a very disrupted year and many have had to be kept at home for a while. So getting back to some normality, getting back to getting the support and learning that happens in early childhood education, is really important for the children but important for families to get back on their feet as well. We’ve had some families tell us that it’s just not worth their while to go back to work, and if that’s the case the family’s not able to earn enough income and the children really miss out. So we really want to ensure that families can get back on their feet. Obviously we’ve got to get elected to do that, but that’s our plan and if we are elected we’re going to implement this immediately and then after we’re going to look at how we go to 90 per cent subsidy of child care for every family. We think this is really important and I’d make the point it’s actually not just good for families that use it, it’s actually really good for the economy and business. One of the points business makes to me pretty regularly is that they’ve got a really good employee, but because of child care reasons and the child care cost barrier that person can’t work the full week. And they’ve said we’d have a much more productive business if they could work the full week. So it actually really helps business well, that’s why a lot of business groups have really been calling for this.

RAMSAY: And just more specifically for the central coast, could you tell me about how much the central coast community has been impacted by the increases in fees.

RISHWORTH: Fees have gone up significantly all around the country, but there are parts of the central coast in which they’ve gone up by almost double the average for the rest of the country. The rest of the country is just over four per cent increase in fees and in parts of the central coast there’s been an increase of over seven per cent in a year in terms of child care fees. That’s a huge amount and means that just over a year child care gets more and more expensive, and more and more difficult for families in the central coast to actually manage. So in particular in the central coast, the increase in fees are placing a bigger burden on families than many other parts of the country.

RAMSAY: Of course you are visiting KU at Ourimbah today, is that your only stop on the central coast today?

RISHWORTH: I will be actually meeting with young people as well at Gravity which is a youth centre. I’ll be talking to young people also about how they are feeling with the pandemic, what they would like to see as they come out of the recovery, because that’s with my other hat as the Shadow Minister for Youth. So I’ll be talking with some young people about jobs and what they’d like to see for job creation and some of the policies we could put in place if elected to support them.

RAMSAY: Amazing, is there anything else that you’d like to add or messages for the community?

RISHWORTH: I’d just like to say in terms of messages to the community that this has been a really difficult year but everyone has stuck together so well. I know that Emma McBride often tells me what a strong and wonderful community she’s got and so I think 2021 is going to be a better year.

RAMSAY: Perfectly said, thanks for your time this morning Amanda.

RISHWORTH: No worries, lovely to chat with you.


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