A proposal to overhaul Australia’s child care system could see grandparents and nannies paid by the government to look after children.
According to a draft report by the Productivity Commission, the current confusing number of child care subsidies should be replaced with a single, means-tested payment that would go straight to the parents’ choice of provider.
Nannies, grandparents are among those who could be eligible for this payment – as long as they were qualified, holding at least a Certificate III in Early Childhood Education.
The new payment would be available to parents who spend at least 24 hours a fortnight working, looking for work or studying.
The report found that the current auditing regime was expensive, burdensome.
But for the system to be successful commissioner Wendy Craik says “there would need to to be a credible chance that someone would come round unannounced to the house to check the care being provided”.
She said the proposal would see the workforce in the childhood sector increase by about 15 per cent.
The commission found many families struggled to find childcare that was flexible and could meet their needs.
But Unions NSW has expressed concern at the proposal, saying it would favour the wealthy and create a system ripe for rorting.
While welcoming the Commissions recommendation to move toward means testing, Unions NSW assistant secretary Emma Maiden said subsidising nannies was the wrong approach.
“Subsiding nannies instead of improving our childcare system is a poor way to direct precious government resources,” she said.
“What working families want and deserve is easy access to quality, well-regulated childcare close to their home and workplace. Turbo-boosting a murky and unregulated sector without any real transparency will always favour the privileged and wealthy over those without money and connections.”
Ms Maiden noted the Commission’s recommendations for auditors for nannies, but raised core concerns about how workable such a system would be.
“What would auditors be checking? Would they be looking at the working rights of nannies? Wages, working conditions, overtime, visa status? How would they be able to check what kind of work nannies were required to do unless they actually caught them with an iron in one hand?”
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