Senator for Victoria the Hon Mitch Fifield said the 2015 Budget delivers a $4.4 billion Jobs for Families package to give parents more choice and opportunity to work.
“The 2015 Budget delivers on the Government’s commitment to support families by making child care simpler, more affordable, more flexible, and more accessible,” Senator Fifield said.
“We know families are faced with costs when parents want to return to the workforce. This package gives families greater choice.
“Having two parents in paid employment has become a necessity for most families because of changes that have taken place in our society and economy over many years. All mothers work hard, and many are also in paid employment.
“The Government will invest an additional $3.5 billion over five years reforming child care assistance to establish a new and simpler Child Care Subsidy from 1 July 2017.
“The Child Care Subsidy will provide assistance to meet the cost of child care for parents who are working, looking for work, training, studying or undertaking any other recognised activity such as volunteering.
“Families using child care in 2017, on family incomes of between $65,000 and $170,000 will be around $30 a week better off. Those on higher incomes will, on average, continue to receive the same level of support.
“Families on incomes of less than $65,000 per year will receive ongoing access to early childhood learning, and can be eligible for additional financial support through the Child Care Safety Net,” Senator Fifield said.
The simplified Child Care Subsidy will replace the current Child Care Benefit, Child Care Rebate and Jobs, Education and Training Child Care Fee Assistance programmes.
The simplified Child Care Subsidy will include:
- introduction of a single means tested Child Care Subsidy for all families, subject to a new activity test for up to 100 hours of subsidised care per child per fortnight, paid directly to approved care service providers to make it easier for families.
- for family incomes of up to approximately $65,000 the Child Care Subsidy will be 85% per child of the actual fee or a benchmark price, whichever is lower. This will reduce to 50% for family incomes of approximately $170,000 and above.
- Families on incomes under $185,000 will no longer have a cap on the amount of subsidy they receive.
- A cap of $10,000 per child will be established for the total value of subsidies for family incomes of $185,000 and above.
- The benchmark price has been based on the projected mean price at the time of implementation plus 17.5% for Long Day and Out of School Hours Care and 5.75% for Family Day Care, recognising their lower cost of overheads.
- A new activity test.
- Up to 24 hours per fortnight will also be provided to children from families with incomes less than approximately $65,000 per year who do not meet the activity test to ensure continued access to early childhood learning. The 24 hours is equivalent to two six hour sessions, which is the same period provided for K-2 public school education. Service providers will have full flexibility and discretion in how these hours of support are delivered.
Senator Fifield said the Jobs for Families package will deliver significant reform, putting downward pressure on child care costs.
“This package reforms the inflationary system in place under Labor which saw child care fees increase by over 50% between 2007 and 2013.
“All child care subsidies and support will remain linked to immunisation requirements which from 1 January will be strengthened under the Government’s ‘no jab, no pay’ policy. The only exemption to this policy will be on medical grounds,” Senator Fifield said.
“This is about protecting our children.”
Senator Fifield said the Government is also trialling new ways to support families, including a Home Care (Nannies) Pilot to help shift workers, such as nurses, police and those in rural and regional areas who find it difficult to access child care mainstream services.
“Our Jobs for Families child care package is all about changing the kitchen table conversation that families are having about being in a job, getting a job and staying in a job, especially for middle and low income families,” Senator Fifield said.
“We want these families to be able to choose to work, we don’t want that choice denied because of complex, inflexible and unaffordable child care arrangements.
“The 2015 Budget also delivers $840 million over two years for preschool programmes. This will ensure families across Melbourne’s South East can continue to access up 15 hours a week of preschool education a year in 2016 and 2017,” Senator Fifield said.
“It’s good news for children, families and preschool providers.”
“The Jobs for Families package is part of the Government’s plan to build a strong, safe and prosperous future for all Australians.”
Media Contact: Tamsin Lawrence – 0408586151