SUBJECTS: KINGSTON SOUTH EAST CHILD CARE FACILITY, CHEAPER CHILD CARE, BUDGET 2022-23.
BECC CHAVE: Well, I asked the Federal Member for Barker, Mr Tony Pasin, before the 8.00 am news break about Labor’s election commitment to fund the promised $1.8 million Kingston South East childcare facility to find out if it is going to be included in the Budget this morning, we’re joined by the Federal Minister for Early Childhood Education, Dr Anne Aly. Good morning. Thank you very much for your time on the program.
ANNE ALY: Good morning, Becc. Thank you for having me on the program.
CHAVE: So what can you tell us this morning for the Kingston community?
ALY: Well, let me start by saying that this Budget delivers Labor’s commitment that the people of Australia voted for, and I can say that the $1.8 million for the Kingston Early Learning Childhood Education Centre in the South East Kingston community is budgeted for and it is in the Investing in Communities Fund because we are committed to investing in our community. So the good news is that this is in the Budget and the people of Kingston will be getting their early childhood education centre.
CHAVE: A few people in the town, I’m sure, sighing with relief today to hear that news.
ALY: I love delivering good news, Becc.
CHAVE: Is there a timeline that we can expect on that? When will this money arrive in Kingston?
ALY: Well, this is something that we will have to continue working through with the local council and with the State Government because they are all stakeholders in this. So, I can’t give a very explicit or exact timeline, but I think the good news today is that, as you said, the people of Kingston can breathe a sigh of relief that the money is in there and it is in the budget for them.
ALY: Listening on the line this morning to that announcement we also have Kirsty Starling, the chair of the Kingston Early Learning and Childcare Services Working Group. Kirsty, how do you feel hearing that?
CHAIR OF THE KINGSTON EARLY LEARNING AND CHILDCARE SERVICES WORKING GROUP KIRSTY STARLING: Very excited.
ALY: I’m excited for you Kirsty.
STARLING: Thank you.
ALY: And I’d love to visit you there and have a chat with you all and see the great work that you are doing. And let me just say we really value early childhood education, and that’s why we introduced our bill to make early childhood education more affordable because we know the value of it for young children, we know the value of it for families and parents, and really looking forward to seeing this come to fruition for you, Kirsty.
CHAVE: Kirsty years of work to get this up and running. How are you feeling today to hear this news and for the Kingston community what does it mean?
STARLING: Oh, it’s life-changing for us. Very excited.
CHAVE: Oh, Kirsty, I can hear you are emotional there, so we’ll come back to you in just one second. Stay on the line if you can for us Kirsty. Dr Aly, so as you mentioned there, you are hoping to pop down to Kingston, as you say. Can we expect a time on that visit?
ALY: I’ll schedule it in as soon as I can. I’m really keen now to come and see and talk with Kirsty and the team down there who have just been so committed to getting this up and running, and it’s really their advocacy that has made this happen and I’m grateful to them. But, you know, Kirsty mentioned that it’s life-changing. Absolutely early childhood education is life-changing. It’s life-changing for families and it’s life-changing for primary caregivers who can pursue a career or pursue study or take on more hours if they so wish. It’s life-changing for children. We know that the first years are critical in a child’s development and access to good‑quality early childhood education means everything.
CHAVE: Dr Aly, as you say there, early childhood education is so important. One of the key elements of the Budget as well is cheaper child care. We know that there are still other regions and towns which don’t have access or adequate access to services. How will what Labor is promising help regional Australians?
ALY: Well, we are delivering on that commitment of cheaper and more affordable early childhood education. That’s correct, Becc. But we have a number of other programs that look at where the markets are thin and we’re doing some analysis on thin markets there where early childhood education is not available. So, we have a number of programs like the Community Child Care Fund, which is a competitive process where we can build and develop services in areas where there are no services or where there are high needs that are not being met. There are a number of other programs that we are looking at.
But we’ve also tasked the ACCC and the Productivity Commission both to do reviews on this and look at the state of the sector more broadly and look at – and look at, you know, where we can make it more accessible as well. We’re mindful of a whole range of issues, including workforce issues, and we’re working on all of them. And we’ve got a good oversight of what all the issues are and what’s needed to ensure that our more affordable early childhood education plan and the commitments that we’ve made are feasible and going to be successful.
CHAVE: Dr Anne Aly, thank you very much for your time this morning and we look forward to your visit to Kingston.
ALY: My pleasure, and I look forward to visiting Kingston and seeing all the smiles and meeting all the beautiful little children there too.
CHAVE: Dr Anne Aly there, the Federal Minister for Early Childhood Education. As we were just talking as well in the budget, $4.7 billion over four years to deliver cheaper child care for 1.26 million families in Australia. Now, hopefully still on the line we’re still joined by Kirsty Starling. Are you all right, Kirsty?
STARLING: Yes, just ecstatic. Very, very excited for our community.
CHAVE: What will this mean for the workers of Kingston who are hoping to return to the workforce, who have put it off or stayed behind to look after their children?
STARLING: Look, again I’d say it will be life-changing for our community. It is something our community has been fighting for, you know, over 40 years there’s been a deficit in this space. For us to finally get something off the ground, it will be just amazing for our community to have this project start and have an opportunity for working parents and people to study or just for parents to have some respite and for their children to access early education is just so important. So, for a rural community that’s been in desperate need, we’re so excited to finally move forward with this. So, it will be amazing.
CHAVE: Kirsty, thank you so much for your time this morning. Enjoy breaking the news to the community. Thank you.
STARLING: Thank you so much.
CHAVE: Kirsty Starling there, the chair of the Kingston Early Learning and Childcare Services Working Group. So, yes, we do have confirmation: the $1.8 million commitment for the Kingston community to deliver a new childcare service will be upheld by the Federal Government in the budget.