SNAICC – National Voice for our Children is deeply disappointed that the Coalition majority of the Senate Education and Employment Legislation Committee has again recommended that the Family Assistance Legislation Amendment (Jobs for Families Child Care Package) Bill 2016 pass without amendment.
Despite recognition from the Department of Education and Training that earlier policies proposed in the Jobs for Families Child Care Package required rethinking, the Government has again failed to make a clear, transparent and genuine commitment to our kids.
In its current form, the Bill will lead to a systemic failure of early childhood outcomes for a generation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.
Many of SNAICC’s key concern’s have also been raised by the minority dissenting reports from the Australian Greens, Australian Labor Party and the Nick Xenophon Team.
Of significant concern to SNAICC are two key elements of the Jobs for Families Child Care Package:
- The Budget Based Funding (BBF) Program – the specific program designed for areas where a user-pays model is not viable – will be abolished. 80% of services in this program that support over 19,000 children are for Indigenous children.
- Access to subsidised early childhood education and care (ECEC) services will be halved for children whose families earn less than around $65,000 per annum (which applies to an estimated 78% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children participating in the BBF Program) and who don’t meet the activity test.
SNAICC recognises that broad scale reform of the sector is a major endeavour and that enormous work has been invested in the development of the Jobs for Families Child Care Package. While we do not believe the Jobs for Families Child Care Package was formed with the intention of further marginalising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, we are concerned that the unintended policy consequences of this Bill will do just that.
No Australian child should have their future compromised by being denied access to quality education.
The Jobs for Families Child Care Package recognises that access to early childhood education and care is one of the most effective early intervention strategies to break the cycle of poverty and intergenerational welfare dependence. We urge the government to consider those who have the most to gain, and also the most to lose.
It is the responsibility of the Government to not widen the extreme gap in disadvantage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children currently experience. How Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children fare will be a litmus test for the Jobs for Families Child Care Package. Now is the time to ensure we have the details right.”
Geraldine Atkinson, SNAICC Deputy Chairperson