Abbott Govt reverses Labor’s occasional care cuts for WA families

Media Release
  • Assistant Minister for Education

The Abbott Government is delivering its election promise to reverse Labor’s cuts to occasional care, ensuring more casual and emergency child care places will be available for busy WA families.

Assistant Minister for Education Sussan Ley announced today that a funding offer would be made to the Western Australian Government in coming days as part of a restored $12.6 million National Occasional Care Programme Agreement (NOC).

Occasional care is a flexible form of child care that offers casual places - often at short notice – where parents generally only pay for the hours their children attend, rather than mandatory full-day blocks.

Ms Ley said occasional care was particularly important in rural Western Australia, where the prevalence of farming communities and seasonal work made it difficult for families to commit to a regular child care place.

Ms Ley said the restored NOC would therefore include a new clause encouraging preference to be given to regional, rural and remote communities that did not have access to occasional care services.

“It’s very difficult to plan your long-term child care needs around unexpected weather events, a last-minute call-in for a casual shift or an emergency trip into town to see the doctor,” Ms Ley said.

“The same goes for seasonal workers picking fruit or fixing fences who just can’t afford to commit to a formal child care place for 12 months when they’re only in town for three.

“Occasional care plays such an important role in providing access to flexible child care for Western Australian families, it’s just a shame Labor’s short-sighted cuts overlooked this.
 
“This is exactly why we campaigned against Labor’s cuts in Opposition and we’re now delivering on our promise to restore this vital funding as a priority for Western Australian families in Government.”

Ms Ley said the important role occasional care played in providing flexible child care options for parents was highlighted in the Productivity Commission’s current draft report into Child Care and Early Childhood Learning.        

In 2010, the previous Labor Federal Government cut $12.6 million in support for informal occasional places across the country, refusing to reverse their decision despite significant backlash from local communities across Western Australia.       

Ms Ley said the Abbott Government was committed to restoring the $12.6 million, with individual contributions to states and territories to be confirmed once final offers have been signed. As per previous arrangements, the restored NOC will remain a joint-partnership between the Commonwealth and the states, with the states contributing 45 per cent of the total programme cost.                  

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