Government Childcare Review Announced

Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s plan for childcare choice as parents have their say

PARENTS will be asked to deliver their verdict on childcare assistance, tax breaks for nannies, workplace childcare and after-school care in the biggest childcare review in two decades.

Declaring the current 9-5 model for childcare out of touch with the modern workplace, Prime Minister Tony Abbott will today announce a major Productivity Commission inquiry into childcare.

But the inquiry will ask for any fresh ideas to remain within the “current funding parameters” of the $5 billion-a-year childcare rebate and childcare benefit, raising fears the Productivity Commission may consider means testing of the 50 per cent rebate.

Long daycare, family daycare, after-school care, nannies, au pairs, childcare at work and mobile childcare will be canvassed by the review which will report by October, 2014.

The Prime Minister said the government was determined to ensure childcare was more flexible, affordable and accessible, including for shift workers and families in the bush.

“Our childcare system should be responsive to the needs of today’s families and today’s economy, not the five-day 9am-5pm working week of last century. More flexible, affordable and accessible,” Mr Abbott said.

“We want to ensure that Australia has a system that provides a safe, nurturing environment for children, but which also meets the working needs of families.”

Childcare Minister Sussan Ley said the government had no plans to consider means testing the childcare rebate but wanted the Productivity Commission to conduct a root and branch review of the system.

“The current system is causing too much stress on families when there’s two working parents, a mortgage and when children are young. It’s a stressful time and it never gets busier,” she said.

“The one thing that has struck me everywhere I go is the inflexibility of the system.’

Currently, parents can secure a 50 per cent rebate on out-of-pocket childcare costs up to the value of $15,000, delivering up to $7500 in cash back for each child.

Some families are also eligible for childcare benefit payments.

For the first time, the final terms of reference also include the role and potential for employer-provided childcare, including workplace childcare centres and subsidies.

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