The results are in… Anthony Albanese is the 31st Prime Minister of Australia. Now that Labor has secured the win and is in charge of our great nation, what does this mean for the Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) sector?
The Labor government promised Australians and particularly young working families that with their childcare policies, 96% of families utilising childcare in Australia would be ‘better off’. They have pledged to increase the childcare subsidy to a maximum of 90% for the first child in care as well as keep a higher childcare subsidy rate for the second, and any additional children in care.
In addition, Labor have said they will increase the childcare subsidy rates for every family with one child in care that earns a combined income of less than $530,000. This is an $180,000 combined income increase. The Labor party pledged this scheme to outside school hours care as well.
Aside from the savings, this Labor policy works as a workforce incentive for parents that currently stay home or only work part time. Now that childcare is becoming more affordable, parents are likely to use it more frequently and return back to full-time work.
The childcare sector may not have the capacity for more families utilising childcare with the current staffing shortages and long waitlists. Now that Labor and the Shadow Minister of Early Education have the ‘Shaping our Future’ 10-year plan by the Australian Children’s Education & Care Quality Authority (ACECQA), the childcare industry may face a revamp over the next coming years.
According to this plan, the first three years should be dedicated to raising the standards of pay and workforce conditions in the childcare sector. As well as developing accessible resources for educators in the sector, access to professional development and much more. Check out the full plan here.
Within six years, ACECQA is hoping that they can ‘promote the importance of a career in children’s education and care through a national communications campaign’ which would encourage more recent school leavers to develop their skill set toward a career in early education and childcare.
The first step is increasing the pay rate and working conditions to encourage highly trained and skilled professionals to stay in the field. The next is to entice new workers to the field. With more highly-skilled and properly educated teachers and professionals in the industry, parents will feel reassured that their children are also receiving the right care.
The Shadow Minister of Early Education stated in an interview published on ‘The Sector’ that ‘the ACECQA 10 year proposal is at the top of her to-do list’. Indicating that she is willing to incorporate it throughout Labor’s serving term.
What this means for the sector is that changes are on the way. However, it is hard to tell when all these changes will start to take effect. There will be no immediate changes in the coming months after the election, as the new government needs to prepare a strategy for the sector.
A spokesperson for the Labor government, says that the first two initiatives the Labor government needs to undertake include actioning recommendations from the ACECQA workforce strategy and the productivity commission to conduct a feasibility assessment on Labor’s promises.
The outcomes of these initiatives on the childcare sector will not be known until these reviews are complete.