THURSDAY, 24 JULY 2014
The Abbott Government has left Sunbury families in limbo with planned cuts to the Child Care Benefit – which 4,330 families in the electorate of McEwen rely on – and by refusing to confirm Federal kindergarten funding from next year.
Shadow Minister for Early Childhood, Kate Ellis, and Member for McEwen, Rob Mitchell, visited the Forever Friends Child Care Centre in Sunbury 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.
“4,330 local low and middle-income families in our community rely on the Child Care Benefit to hold down jobs. Tony Abbott’s planned cuts will hit those who can least afford it and make it even harder for parents to go back to work and make ends meet,” Rob Mitchell 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.”
“The uncertainty over kindergarten funding is having a huge impact on families and services right now,” Rob Mitchell said.
“Kindergartens don’t know if they can take enrolments, they can’t draw up next year’s budgets, and families work commitments are totally up in the air.”
Rob Mitchell 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