Parents will have to start paying childcare fees from July 13.
Education Minister Dan Tehan has announced the Government will switch back on the childcare subsidy after giving parents a few months of reprieve with no fees.
Centres won’t be able to increase fees however until September and the child care subsidy was increased in line with CPI several days ago.
There will be a relaxing of the activity test for those people who can show that their work has been genuinely impacted by the COVID economic slump.
Those who have been impacted will be able to access 100 hours of subsidised childcare as long as they can show they have spent four hours a fortnight looking for work.
Absent days will still be charged and JobKeeper will be turned off for the childcare sector on July 20.
Mr Tehan said Australia’s success of flattening the curve meant the childcare sector could return to normal.
He said the Government would continue to support the sector and “pay childcare services a transition payment of 25 per cent of their fee revenue during the relief package reference”.
He said fees would need to remain capped at the levels they were in February.
“Services will need to guarantee average employment levels over the three months to protect staff who will move off the JobKeeper payment,” Mr Tehan said.
“The sector has once again worked with the government, consulted with the government to make sure we get this transition package right, and can I thank everyone for the feedback that they have provided as we have put this package together … and can I thank everyone for the feedback they have provided.”
Mr Tehan said demand for places in centres had increased as the curve flattened and, without introducing fees again, extra places could not come up online.
“We put in place a temporary measure which was designed to help the sector when it was on the brink of collapse, when demand was collapsing. What we now have to do is design a package which deals with increased demand and that is what this package does,” Mr Tehan said.
“We think we have the balance right with this transition package.
“So what we must do is now put in a system, in place, that enables us to transition. To be able to deal with the extra demand that is coming into the system and that is what this package is designed to do.”
Mr Tehan said he couldn’t guarantee that parents wouldn’t pull their kids out of care because of fees being switched back on.
“We can’t guarantee the demand won’t go backwards. But what we can guarantee through this package is that we have done everything we can to support the sector transition, that we have consulted with the sector, listened to what they have said will be needed to make sure that demand will continue to grow and we think that we have a package that will work for lease going forward,” he said.
We need to put together in a package which is sustainable.
“We need to put together in a package which is sustainable into the future and what we have seen is demand grow and grow over the last few weeks so that we needed to change the system. This system was designed for when demand was falling.”
Australian Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi has said a return to childcare fees next month was a recipe for disaster.
“Thousands of families that have been hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis will now have to make some very hard choices,” she said.
“We know that a significant proportion of families currently accessing free childcare will now be forced to reduce their work days or completely remove their little ones from care.
“Let’s be honest: it will mostly be women who are forced out of work now. Ending free childcare is an anti-women move.”
Labor’s early childhood education spokeswoman Amanda Rishworth said she feared the “snap back” to the old childcare system would “snap families”.
“Parents will be sitting around their kitchen tables doing the maths and working out childcare will be just too expensive for them,” she said.
“We’ve snapped back to the old system, which is one of most expensive in the world.
“A lot of parents will be having to make some very difficult decisions.”
Ms Rishworth said the Prime Minister had “broken his promise” guaranteeing the JobKeeper payment would remain for six months, with Mr Tehan today announcing it would cease for the childcare sector.
“The Minister has not been able to explain why he is moving from JobKeepeer to these transitional payments,” she said.
“The Government promised to keep JobKeeper going and a few days later they have broken that promise.” Childcare fees are set to be cheaper then they were before coronavirus with the Federal Government to increase subsidies