Those who claim centre-based care is no longer a relevant childcare solution for busy working families need to be mindful of a few facts.
We now have more Australian children in approved childcare services than at any time in our nation’s history. We have, in fact, seen a massive 36 per cent increase in the number of approved childcare services since Labor came to Government. That includes over 500 new centres opening in the last year alone.
And of course with our increase of the childcare rebate from 30 to 50 per cent of parents’ out-of-pocket costs and an increase in the cap from $4354 - as it was under the Howard Government - to $7500 per child per year, childcare affordability has markedly improved.
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Childcare should not be a battle ground. Parents need to be able to make a living for themselves and provide a future for their children. They should not be penalised by a system that makes going to work impractical or expensive.
Tony Abbott’s plan to ask the Productivity Commission to look at the best ways to provide childcare is a commitment to review the options and see how childcare can be changed to make life easier for mums and dads, and ensure access is available in the city and the country.
If in-home care turns out to be the common-sense option, we will pursue it, and it will be a great complement to the Coalition’s six-month paid parental leave scheme. The hysteria the Government has tried to create over this announcement by claiming child care assistance will be cut, or that this is welfare for the wealthy is nonsense. This is not about providing nannies for millionaires or cutting important help for low income working families.
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If a family has a nanny, you’d think they’d have to be pretty wealthy. Chances are you’d think they’d be able to afford a pretentious British butler and a stuffy Manhattan (or Mosman) mansion.
But times are changing. There’s some evidence that nannying is a growing alternative to childcare. And over the weekend the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, made clear he’s interested in transforming nannying into a more palatable alternative to childcare centres.
If elected at the next election, Abbott wants to explore expanding the childcare rebate to cover nannies. It’s not a flawless idea, but it’s a good one.
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