107 early education and care services in the Northern Territory are facing an uncertain future, with Mr Turnbull's child care changes set to end the funding program many Indigenous services rely on to keep their doors open.
Experts have expressed severe concerns about Mr Turnbull’s plan to push services into the mainstream fee-based system, with the Government’s own review of the Budget Based Funded (BBF) Program in 2014 finding that "only a small number of BBF services are likely to be able to transition.”
35 per cent of these services are located in the Northern Territory – and some 6,600 children in the NT face losing their only form of early education if they close.
Budget Based Funded services are predominantly located in regional, remote and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities which would otherwise be left without services to meet the needs of children and their families. 80 per cent of services funded under the BBF Program have an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander focus.
“In many communities these are the only childhood services and any idea that parents will be able to pay fees to make them viable is totally misguided and will punish children by pushing them out of early education,” Shadow Minister for Early Education Kate Ellis said today.
“It shows Malcolm Turnbull simply doesn’t understand that services in small towns and communities will close without ongoing support.
“Is the Government is happy for vital early education services in remote and Indigenous communities to close? Or will Malcolm Turnbull give an iron-clad guarantee that no Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child will be pushed out of the system?”
Labor Candidate for Solomon, Luke Gosling, said that it was simply unacceptable that 107 early education centres will have an uncertain funding future from next year.
“Considering the importance of education in closing the gap, this could be devastating for the Territory.”