The Australian Childcare Alliance (ACA) is a not-for-profit, member-funded organisation advocating for the future of Australia’s children.
ACA works on behalf of long day care service owners and operators, as a reputable source of evidence-based advice to policy makers and a trusted source of practical guidance to service operators.
We represent more than 2,500 members and approximately 360,000 families throughout Australia.
ACA has existed in various forms for more than 30 years. Our experience means that we understand the critical role a quality early learning program plays in the life of families and the importance of a viable long day care sector in preparing children for the best start in life and learning.
We work with Federal and State Governments, regulatory authorities and other stakeholders to ensure that families are supported into the future with a sustainable, affordable and viable sector.
Affordable access to early learning services is a huge priority for all Australian families with young children, as well as those planning to have children.
As it stands, the new Child Care Subsidy (CCS) which was introduced on 1 July 2018 does not provide a minimum level of subsidised access to early learning services for those children whose families do not meet the activity test, reducing their capacity to afford early learning services.
The activity test, the criteria within it and its range of exemptions which may allow families access to the CCS, creates significant complications for families to understand their entitlements and for Centrelink to administer the system – particularly for those families with varying work hours per fortnight, along with those not proficient in English.
The package was designed by the current Federal Government with a primary focus on assisting working families to increase workforce participation, as opposed to recognising the benefits of Early Childhood Education.
ACA acknowledges that a significant number of working families were better off as a result of the implementation of the CCS, but these benefits are quickly eroding as the CCS indexation rate has not kept up with increased operational costs, including hourly rate increases for educators under relevant awards. We are also deeply concerned about those families the CCS does not support, leaving their children disadvantaged as they cannot afford early learning services.
The benefits of high quality Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) are now well recognised and acknowledged locally and globally across the education sector.
There is an abundance of evidence from studies in Australia and internationally, demonstrating the significant advantages children gain from attending quality early learning services, which in turn flows on to their family and the wider community.
Children who enjoy quality early learning are likely to be well socialised, confident, inquisitive about the world, accepting of diversity, resilient to manage challenges and also to be life-long learners.
As the sector continues to grow in size, its benefit to young children as well as to future prospects of the Australian economy are increasingly being recognised, both by government and the general community.
ACA engages with all sides of politics to explain our position on the level of support required by the Federal Government, in order to achieve our vision – a future where every child in Australia has access to high quality, affordable and sustainable early learning services.
We are urging all parties to support a revision of the Child Care Subsidy parameters so that all families qualify for 18 hours per week of subsidised access to early learning services, equivalent to meeting step 1 of the activity test.
ACA is also calling on all parties to support the provision of additional funding that supports the long day care sector in delivering kindergarten/preschool programs for 3 and 4 year olds, taking advantage of age-appropriate, developmentally-appropriate and culturally inclusive environments and pedagogy that are already established, therefore reducing the need for significant capital investment by government. This would allow parents the choice of early learning service type that best suits their work/life needs.
We strongly encourage you, our early learning sector stakeholders, including our members and non-members in the long day care sector, to engage with government and make sure your voice is heard.
The resources on this website are designed to help our stakeholders to engage with their local political candidates, starting from how to approach them, to what to say.
ACA believes that with the right policy and financial frameworks in place, Australia could be a world leader in the delivery of high quality ECEC within 10 years.
We welcome the opportunity to contribute to the policy considerations for all parties, and we urge our stakeholders to do the same, in the context of ensuring that every child in Australia has access to high quality, affordable and sustainable early learning services, and therefore the best start in life.