KATE ELLIS: Ending the 'tag team' pick up and drop off for parents.

Minister for Early Childhood and Childcare Kate Ellis







I met a mother at child care centre recently who told me about the great lengths her and her partner need to go to juggle just getting the kids to and from child care.

She told me how they have to ‘tag team’ the pick-up and drop off; how they have to and negotiate with employers, fight the traffic, and call on grandparents to ‘fill the child care gaps.’

It’s not a new story, it’s a story I hear constantly from Australian parents who say their child care isn’t flexible enough to meet their needs.

Over the last 10 years there’s been a significant shift in our workforce. There has been a 25% increase in women participating in work and also a growing diversity in the sectors that we are employed in. At the same time more children are accessing child care than ever before.

This means that parents need flexible options to meet their child care needs.

I understand that that no two families are the same and I know that families want more options when it comes to managing their work and family balance.

That’s why our Government introduced the Fair Work Act and then added new measures to give working parents the right to request to work part time.

It’s also why we announced yesterday that we are introducing flexibility trials at 50 different sites across Australia in partnership with industry, business and child care operators to provide more flexible child care hours. We are working on new arrangements to help parents out with the mad dash to get the kids before and after work every day and help make the juggling act a little easier.


We are trialling extending the hours at long day care centres so that parents have a little less stress trying to crawl through peak hour traffic to collect their children and expanding after school care so that work doesn’t have to finish the moment that the school bell rings.

We want to add to this and work with even more partners to explore new ways to increase the flexibility and accessibility of our current child care system. Today I have announced the Government will expand the child care flexibility trials through a Child Care Flexibility Fund. Those early childhood providers, employers, employee associations who have ideas on new ways are all being encouraged to apply for funding.

All of the trials will backed up by an independent evaluation of how they are meeting the needs of modern families so that we can assess it for a wider roll out.

This $5 million measure builds on the real actions our Government has undertaken to make child care more affordable, more accessible and of higher quality.

It builds on action like:

· increasing the Child Care Rebate from 30 per cent where it sat under the Coalition up to 50 per cent of out of pocket costs

· increasing the Rebate cap from $4354 per child per year to $7500 per child per year, and

· paying the Child Care Rebate fortnightly as the bills come in rather than leaving parents to wait until the end of the year to receive their money.

We know that combining work and family will never be a completely easy task but I can assure you that we will keep working on important reforms and investments to lighten the load and modernise our system and not just promise endless reviews and enquiries.

We’re determined to make the investments necessary and you won’t have to wait long for the next of the Government’s child care announcements… stay tuned!

Kate Ellis is the Minister for Employment Participation and Minister for Early Childhood and Child Care.

Are your kids in child care? What do you think the Government should do to make child care more affordable and more flexible?