A Senate Committee inquiry into childcare has heard damning evidence on the disastrous impact which new regulations brought in by the Gillard/Rudd Governments are having on the operation of childcare centres in regional Australia, according to committee member and Victorian Nationals Senator, Bridget McKenzie.
“The Labor reforms were intended to raise standards, but it is clear from the evidence we heard that Labor did not consult with rural regional parents and providers and this has left many childcare centres on the brink,” Senator McKenzie said.
“The new regulations require childcare centres to employ more and better qualified staff, but it is simply impossible to recruit enough people with these specialist qualifications in many rural areas.”
“Many childcare centres in regional Australia are not-for-profit and don’t have money to burn for pointless red tape.”
“For example a childcare centre that cannot recruit staff with the approved qualifications can apply for a temporary waiver, however each waiver costs $102 and the centre must continue paying to advertise for the staff even though they know there will be no qualified local applicants.”
“The centres are being incredibly resourceful under this unfair burden. One childcare centre in Western Australia went so far as to recruit staff from overseas on 457 visas.”
“Labor’s regulatory burden is also having the perverse effect of taking professionals away from the children and into the office to complete the countless forms needed to comply with bureaucratic hurdles.”
“The Abbott-Truss Government has committed to the task of calmly and methodically working through the issues so it can lay out a sustainable pathway to a mature and successful early childhood education sector.”
The Government’s new childcare policy will be informed by a wide ranging Productivity Commission inquiry which will hand down its final report in October.