REGIONAL FAMILIES DESERVE ACCESS TO CHILD-CARE SERVICES
28 Feb 2017
Yesterday I spoke in Parliament about the negative impact that the government’s Social Services Legislation Amendment (Omnibus Savings and Child Care Reform) Bill 2017 will have on vital mobile child care services in our region and how this will result in rural and remote families in the region not having access to quality child-care services.
Last year, on 26 November, I travelled to Tumut to meet with parents from all over the south-west slopes region who were deeply worried that the award-winning mobile child-care service that they relied on for 16 years, Puggles, would no longer be available for their children.
Under changes that the government has proposed in the Omnibus Bill, the criteria for funding of mobile childcare services are unclear and there is no guarantee that services like Puggles will continue to receive funding. This bill is designed to streamline child-care arrangements as a budget savings measure, but it fails to take into account the differing circumstances of delivering services to rural and remote communities.
The Puggles mobile children's service ensures that our remote children are receiving six hours of early education a week. It is a recommendation that children receive 15 hours of early education a week and, as a result of the government's proposed changes, parents are seeing that their children will receive no early education—not just not meeting the recommended levels but nothing at all.
While all governments should constantly monitor how efficiently funding arrangements are being delivered—and I am certainly happy to concede that—if they want to make changes, it is important to bring everyone along. Our mobile childcare services and parents are being left completely in the dark on this matter.
I will continue to oppose any legislation that will prevent families in Eden-Monaro from having access to the quality child-care services they deserve.