Government announces free child care system
The Federal Government has announced free child care for "parents who need to send their children" so they can work. The Prime Minister addressed media outlets on Thursday afternoon. "If you have a job in this economy then that is an essential job, in my view, in terms of the running of the economy and it is important that all of those parents who have children, that they get access to the childcare and those facilities will be there for them in the many months ahead," Mr Morrison said. "We will be ensuring for those parents who are still in that position where they are needing that childcare; it will be free. "We will be putting in place support arrangements to childcare facilities, some 13,000 of them, to ensure they remain open and be there for their parents to ensure they can do what they need to do each day." The education minister, Dan Tehan, said the new system would come into place as of Sunday night which will provide the relief. "The way it will work is that we will look at what 50 per cent of the fees up to the rate cap in the fortnight before March 2 and we will pay you that amount on a fortnightly basis," he said. "We will also make sure that it is calibrated with JobSeeker. Now, 60 per cent of the costs of a childcare centre are the wages. "So with JobKeeper, we are helping to support the sector to the tune of over $1 billion. With this payment, we will be helping the sector to the tune of $1.6 billion, and this will ensure the sector to make sure that they remain open and are providing this care for parents for free." Mr Tehan said there are some conditions that they are asking of the sector. "The centre must remain open, and it must provide care for those parents who need their children cared for," he said. "They must also seek to re-enrol those parents who might have dropped off. So if they need care, they can get that care as well. "To help and assist with that, we are backdating to March 23, the requirement that the sector must pursue from parents a fee. So we are waving the gap fee for parents going back to March 23." Mr Tehan said the hope is that now all parents who need it, will get the care they want and those who have sought to disengage from the childcare sector will re-engage.
Mr Tehan said they will ask the centres to prioritise those who need their children cared for because they are working and "working where they can’t care for their children safely at home".
"For them to prioritise as well vulnerable children who need that continuity of care as well and then to re-engage with those parents who have taken their children out of care to see whether they can be accommodated as necessary as well, but there is a clear priority list that we want centres to take into account," he said.
"The most important of those are those essential workers and vulnerable children." Mr Morrison said the situation is getting "very real for Australians," as they continue to adapt and change their daily lives. "We are one of the few if only, countries that have been talking about the Coronavirus pandemic as being one that we are going to have to live with for at least the next six months. I have been very clear about that," he said. "For a very simple reason - I really want Australians to understand that we need to be in this for that haul. It will be months. "We need to make chains that we can live with and that we can implement day after day, week after week, month after month." Mr Morrison said "stay positive" and "stay strong" Australia.