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I rise to inform the chamber that on Tuesday of last week, I had the privilege of escorting the Hon. Sussan Ley, Assistant Minister for Education to meet with childcare directors from the local area in a childcare sector forum.
Prior to the forum, Assistant Minister Ley met with local childcare directors in my electorate Stephanie Bruno and Eleni Wilson at their centre Barfa Bear to listen to concerns for the operation of the childcare sector and toured the facility.
I then escorted the Assistant Minister to meet with childcare directors and managers in a two hour open forum where the Assistant Minister and I heard from representatives of long day care centres, out of school hours care centres, and family day care centres.
Childcare is one of our most fundamental social investments as a federal government. Childcare which is accessible, flexible and of high quality is indispensable for the families in my electorate and the strains on the sector are real.
Childcare directors who attended the forum expressed their concerns with the regulatory frameworks in place in the sector including the weight and cost placed on centres due to the technical requirements of meeting the National Quality Framework, an ongoing concern of the Coalition Government.
Also discussed was the increasing demand for qualified staff due to stringent requirements for the qualification level of staff. Attendees also expressed concern about the rapidly increasing price for childcare and the impact that is having on parents in my electorate.
As Barton’s federal member, it concerned me to hear that the well-intentioned schemes and requirements of governmental bodies are costing childcare centres in my electorate time, money and morale.
Although the Coalition government holds in-principle support for the National Quality Framework, we should be looking for ways of implementing quality standards that enable centres to flourish and get on with quality care rather than overburdening and overregulating the hardworking professionals who provide such a crucial social enterprise.
Assistant Minister Ley’s visit was so encouraging because it demonstrated that the Federal Government is listening to childcare providers and engaging with them earnestly with respect.
I am grateful to the Assistant Minister for listening to those with experience of the sector and those closest to its challenges at our community forum last week and I reiterate my support for her leadership in these areas.