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Nannies not the answer

Risks to quality too great, says early childhood union 

United Voice, the early childhood union, has cautioned the Federal Government against extending childcare funding to cover nannies warning that unregulated and unqualified care is too expensive and is not in children’s or families’ interests.

The Australian reported the recommendation to include nannies in government funded early childhood education and care is included in the Productivity Commission’s draft report to the Government on childcare.

Commenting on the article, David O’Byrne, Acting National Secretary of United Voice, said “Educators look forward to seeing the Productivity Commission’s draft report. Our initial response is that many of the recommendations seem sound.

“However, we strongly disagree with extending government subsidies to cover nannies. The system cannot afford them.  Not only are they are too expensive, but it is also inappropriate for taxpayers’ money to be spent on unprofessional and unregulated services in such a critical area as children’s education and care.

“The evidence is overwhelming that the quality of early childhood education and care is critical for children, as well as for women’s workforce participation.

“Simplification of the system to one payment is long overdue.  The current funding of a rebate and benefit is unnecessarily complicated and is expensive to implement.

“We welcome the Commission’s support for the 15 hours per week of pre-school for all four year olds and urge the Government to continue its funding.

“On the issue of funding, it is worth noting that at 0.45% of GDP Australia has one of the lowest expenditures on ECEC as a proportion of GDP of any country in the OECD. The countries that are marked as best-practice spend significantly more, for example New Zealand, which spends 1% of GDP, significantly more than Australia.

“The Productivity Commission review is part of the Federal Government’s once in generation opportunity – and responsibility – to make a positive contribution to our early childhood sector. The decisions they make will have an impact on families, the economy and, most importantly, on hundreds of thousands of young Australians. Their lifelong outcomes depend on it.

“Educators and their union, United Voice, take seriously the responsibility to work with the sector, families and the Government to ensure Australia has the best possible system for the 21st Century,” said O’Byrne.

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