Statement on support for Victorian early education sector

Wednesday, 05 August 2020

Labor welcomes any extra support for the Victorian early education sector and we will work through the details of today’s announcement with providers, families and educators.

It is disappointing that the Morrison Government did not already have a plan in place for early education in the event of greater lockdown measures, considering we have been in this pandemic for five months now.

The Minister declared “job done” in June when he announced a snap-back to the old childcare system and ripped JobKeeper for the sector. Labor warned this was premature and ill-conceived, and the situation in Victoria has unfortunately proven those warnings correct.

The rushed measures announced for providers today are incredibly complex, and we are concerned services will be left deeply confused about how this package will ensure their viability.

Providers have been working overtime during this pandemic to provide education and care for children. Now on top of that, they must try and understand these new complex arrangements before childcare lockdown measures come into place tomorrow.

Many providers will be scratching their heads for days, if not weeks, to understand how much support they will be entitled to.

Labor is also concerned that the Minister revealed families can still be charged gap fees if they are directed to no longer attend early education during the lockdown period.

This is not good enough. It is incumbent on the Morrison Government to ensure families are not financially burdened for a service they are not able to receive.

There also remains confusion and concern about security of employment for early educators. The Government says there is an “employment guarantee”, but is very light on detail.

The Minister has many questions to answer – including whether it guarantees casuals will keep their jobs, and whether it guarantees pre-pandemic hours and income levels for educators.

In comparison, JobKeeper would have provided certainty and continuity for educators during this time, however the Morrison Government cruelly ripped this safety net away from the sector.

Today’s announcement should have provided much-needed reassurance for educators, providers and families in Victoria, who are already going through a tremendously difficult time.

Unfortunately, many may still go to sleep tonight with no clarity on what the Morrison Government’s announcement means for them.

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