THURSDAY, 24 JULY 2014
The Abbott Government has left families in the South East in limbo with planned cuts to the Child Care Benefit – which 2,790 families in the electorate of Chisolm rely on – and by refusing to confirm Federal kindergarten funding from next year.
Shadow Minister for Early Childhood, Kate Ellis, and Member for Chisholm, Anna Burke, visited Ashwood Children’s Centre today, which relies on the Child Care Benefit and Federal kindergarten funding to deliver high quality early education and care services to the local community.
“Tony Abbott has legislation before the Parliament with the sole purpose of cutting the Child Care Benefit, legislation that the Education Department has admitted will leave half a million families worse off,” Kate Ellis said.
The Child Care Benefit is a means-tested payment to low and middle income families to assist with the cost of child care. Cutting it will directly hit families earning as little as $42,000 a year.
“2,790 families in our community rely on the Child Care Benefit so they can hold down employment and balance the family budget. The Abbott Government’s proposed cuts will hit low and middle-income families the hardest, including many parents who could not otherwise afford to be in the workforce,” Anna Burke said.
This is an unprecedented attack – no previous Government has ever moved to cut the Child Care Benefit. It brings Tony Abbott’s child care cuts to over $1 billion.
The Abbott Government is also refusing to guarantee Federal Universal Access kindergarten funding from next year. This funding ensures all four-year-olds can access 15 hours of education in the year before school.
“The Government is still refusing to give local families certainty, despite the Productivity Commission yesterday warning the Federal Government against cuts to kindergarten funding,” Kate Ellis said.
“Without this Federal money, kindergarten hours will be slashed from 15 to just 10, fees will rise and services could be forced to close their doors.”
“Kindergarten funding uncertainty is a huge issue for local families, who are feeling the impacts right now,” Anna Burke said.
“Parents don’t know if they can make work commitments, kindergartens have no idea how much they might have to put up fees, or even if they can take enrolments for next year - it’s very unfair.”
Anna Burke said Labor would fight Tony Abbott’s attacks on local child care and kindergarten services – and encouraged residents to add their voice to the petition against these cuts which has already attracted over 20,000 signatures at: www.alp.org.au/targetedchildcarecuts