A crisis now looms in Australia’s childcare system as a result of the Prime Minister’s failure to fix the problem of rising child care fees and the national shortage of childcare workers.

ACTU President Sharan Burrow said:

“Today’s announcement by the PM contains some welcome but modest enhancements
to the Government’s previous family and early childhood programs but fails to
offer anything of real significance.”

“In particular the Prime Minister has failed to act on the looming crisis in

“ABS data shows that families have suffered a 30% rise in childcare costs
over the past two years and yet the PM has ignored this problem.”

“The PM has also failed to act on the major national shortage of childcare
workers that is having such a serious negative effect on the quality of care
that children are getting.”

“These problems include:

  • An over-reliance on poorly paid junior staff. Junior childcare workers –
    some as young as 16 and 17 years old – are paid as little as $6 an hour and in
    some States such as Queensland, it is estimated that up to one in four child
    care workers are juniors.”
  • An inability to attract and retain staff due to very low wages: In a number
    of States adult childcare workers receive no more than the minimum wage of
    $11.80 an hour. This is less than $450 a week and less than $25,000 a year. Many
    childcare staff are leaving the profession because their job prospects are so
    limited and yet the continuity of staff is crucial to the relationship needs of
    young children.
  • Safety and quality is being compromised: Staff shortages are so bad that
    there are not enough qualified people to adequately supervise children and
    childcare centres around Australia are unable to meet their staffing license
  • “A recent major childcare think tank warned that ‘the child care system as we
    know it will collapse’ unless there is Government action to improve the pay and
    conditions of child care workers and at the same time ensure childcare is
    affordable for families.”

    “Childcare is a ‘BBQ stopper’ in its own right and yet the Prime Minister has
    today missed another opportunity to deal with this crucial part of the work and
    family equation.”

    “The ACTU is supporting five separate union claims that are currently
    underway across the nation to lift the pay and conditions of Australia’s
    estimated 76,000 children’s services staff.”