Major changes to childcare payments unveiled

Abbott warned against "turbo-charging" "murky" childcare

SOCIAL services groups and unions have warned the Abbott government against subsidising nannies and urged it to keep the national quality framework for early childhood education, after a review recommended doing both.

The Productivity Commission's interim report on its child care inquiry was released on Tuesday, recommending the numerous rebates and subsidies be combined into a single, means-tested rebate.

But it also recommended removing requirements for degree-trained child care workers, embedded in Labor's quality framework, and putting some funds towards rebates for parents employing nannies.

>> Nannies, grannies could be paid to look after kids

United Voice, representing early childhood workers around the country, on Tuesday welcomed the report, saying it proved there was a need for more government funding of the sector.

But acting national secretary David O'Byrne said the commission's draft report also suggested dismantling key parts of the national quality framework put in place to improve education at childcare centres.

He was most concerned by proposals to remove the need for university and diploma-educated childcare teachers and changing teacher-child ratios to allow more children per teacher.

But the union did welcome the commission's proposals to create a single, means-tested rebate payment, including for nannies, to replace the complicated existing system.

It was a sentiment shared by Uniting Care Australia's national director Lin Hatfield Dodds, who said rebates should be going to the families who needed them most.

She said it was also encouraging it recommended a "disadvantaged communities program" for vulnerable children, particularly of low income homes.

Unions New South Wales further said paying people to hire nannies was "the wrong approach" and money should instead be directed to improving the existing system.

"What working families want and deserve is easy access to quality, well-regulated childcare close to their home and workplace," she said.

"Turbo-boosting a murky and unregulated sector without any real transparency will always favour the privileged and wealthy over those without money and connections."


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