Home | Industry | Swaddling and swindling: childcare’s big-money scams

Swaddling and swindling: childcare’s big-money scams

It’s the rort that keeps on swindling. The Australian Childcare Alliance revealed the country has lost about $1.6 billion in childcare scams over three years.

The Victorian minister for families and children, Jenny Mikakos, said that, in the wake of this discovery, Victoria wants to ban new family daycare centres from opening in areas it deems over-saturated with them – such as Melbourne’s western suburbs – pending an independent review.

Scams seem to have risen in tandem with the growth of the family daycare industry. The Australian reported that the number of home-based centres increased by 61 per cent over the past two years. Childcare centres, by contrast, grew by just 7 per cent.

While childcare cons are nothing new, the billion-dollar figure may be enough to trigger a government review of family daycare centres. Even so, the education minister, Simon Birmingham, laid responsibility for thwarting corruption on the states and territories.

“We’ve been closing those loopholes as quickly as we find them but the states and territories need to fulfil their responsibilities as the level of government primarily responsible for ensuring the quality and compliance of childcare providers,” he said.

The Australian Childcare Alliance (ACA) NSW thinks the government is on the right track, but should do more. It suggested better state-federal government collaboration, streamlined, national accountability standards for all childcare providers, and a ‘dob-in line’.

ACA NSW chief executive Chiang Lim said: “Stopping non-compliances that cheat Australian taxpayers out of hundreds of millions of dollars means having such funds redirected back to genuine children and their families, who need support provided by legitimate and professional childcare services, including long-daycare centres.”

The Department of Education estimated that losses from dodgy childcare providers totalled $400 million in 2012–13, $700 million in 2013–14 and $550 million in 2014–15.

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