Local government calls for child care revival

Local government is prepared to revive the child care sector. Photo: iStock.

By Staff Writer

The Australian Services Union (ASU)  has urged the Federal Government to transfer child care to local government following the collapse of private sector companies, such as ABC Learning Centres.

In a submission to the Senate Committee on the provision of child care, the union representing local government child care workers said there was a clear need for alternative models to private sector service providers.

“The inevitable outcome of having private providers of child care is continual cost cutting to protect the profit margin,” ASU national secretaty Paul Slape said in a statement.

“On average for-profit services offer lower wages and conditions to their staff, have higher staff turnover and greater reliance on casuals.”

Slape said staff costs at not-for-profit providers, including local government centres, were around 80 to 85 per cent of total costs, but at corporate centres wages represented only half the costs.
“We need to concentrate on quality child care – profit should be a secondary consideration,” he said.

“Local government, with its close links to the community is the logical sphere to create a high quality child care sector that meets the needs of parents and children.”

The Local Government and Shires Associations of New South Wales said it is prepared to help revive child care, but will need the support of the Commonwealth.

Local Government Association president Cr Genia McCaffery said current legislative, policy, administrative and funding arrangements would need to be addressed to rescue the child care sector.

“Local government is in a unique position to bring a necessary level of balance to this industry, but additional support is crucial,” Cr McCaffery said.

“This is exactly why we need the Federal Government to step in and provide councils with more funding – to help maintain the viability of the industry.”

Cr McCaffery said she had raised the issue with the Federal Government and would continue to offer suggestions from the local government sector on the best was forward.

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