Interesting piece from Yvonne Haigh up at The Conversation that explores the tension between a “caring” society and the political desire to be seen as “strong” on the economy. She touches on ECEC policies:
The Labor government introduced the National Quality Framework (2012) to ensure quality of educative and care services and it tinkered with rebates and family benefits to the tune of A$7,500 rebate for many families per child. But this does not cover the total costs for children attending day-long or out-of-school child care.
The Coalition has proposed a Productivity Commission inquiry into child care: one that takes into account costs, rebates and subsidies but does not target funding for child care centres.
As proposed solutions, these positions reinforce the tension between policies that “care” and enhancing the economic bottom line. The Coalition’s paid parental leave policy has been criticised for reinforcing inequality and discrimination against women; the Labor Party’s approach has been criticised for excluding superannuation. In both positions, the importance of care is lost in the rhetoric that focuses on time periods and amounts of financial assistance.
The article is worth a read, and also touches on disability, aged care and family policy.