10 June 2020


SUBJECTS: Childcare; JobKeeper for childcare workers; disproportionate impact of Government’s childcare policies on women.


ALICIA PAYNE, MEMBER FOR CANBERRA: I’m Alicia Payne the Member for Canberra. I want to talk today about childcare. The Government’s treatment of early childhood education and care through this pandemic has been an absolute shambles. This essential service was expected to keep running so that our essential workers could continue to work and our children could continue to receive that all important early education and care. And for too long the Government did nothing, until pressure from Labor and from the sector meant that they introduced a package. And that package was a headline about free childcare. And while that’s a great headline, it did not deliver properly for the sector. Providers were not supported properly and this was a huge issue here in Canberra, with so many centres writing to me and parents writing to me about the uncertainty they faced in where their children were cared for.
The latest now is that the Government has announced we will snap back from the 12th of July to the old system, to expensive fees, and that early childhood education workers will be removed from JobKeeper. This comes four days after the Prime Minister promised that JobKeeper would last until the end of September. So why is this essential workforce being the first to be kicked off JobKeeper? This is an essential service, and I think that point really needs to be made, because this sector is not receiving the respect it deserves. These are the people that care for our children, our littlest children, every day. These are the people who have fronted up throughout this pandemic, enabling everyone else to be able to go work. But more than that, they’ve enabled these children to continue that all important early childhood education and care. These are skilled professionals and they should be respected that way.
Also, this will predominantly impact women. This is a predominantly female workforce that are being kicked of JobKeeper. Why? Secondly, the families that cannot afford to go back to childcare, the families that are going to go back to expensive fees they were facing back in February, it will be women who cannot return to work. It will be women who might have found a job or got their job back and are not able to return because they cannot afford childcare. That is wrong. That is the last thing we want for this economy. We know that our economy is not going to snap back to normal. It won’t be back to normal by the end of the year. It is certainly not going to be back to normal by the 12th of July. So we need something in place to ensure that these workers can receive JobKeeper like all other workers until the end of September.