The Assistant Minister for Education Sussan Ley has issued a press release foreshadowing changes to the National Quality Framework regulatory system.

“The Coalition has a clear position supporting high-quality child care, but it needs to be delivered in a fairer way that doesn’t make it unaffordable and inaccessible for parents and providers,” Ms Ley said.

“The child care industry has said loud and clear that Labor’s increased red tape and regulations are some of the main reasons forcing them to raise fees and we’re listening.

“These changes will be a significant first step in improving the implementation of the National Quality Framework.

There is so much that is alarming in this short press release, it’s hard to know where to begin.

As I have said again and again, the issue of “red tape” is only an issue for people who don’t take their jobs seriously.

 “Currently all operators have to undergo assessment in seven ‘quality areas’ that require compliance with 18 ‘standards’ and 58 ‘elements’ just to receive a quality rating—it’s a bureaucratic nightmare,” Ms Ley said.

 

Assistant Minister Ley talks about the 58 elements that services have to be assessed against as a “bureaucratic nightmare”. This is absolute nonsense, and needs to be called out as such. The examples of the United States and Ireland demonstrate that a system without oversight directly harms children.

“But if it wasn’t complex enough, none of these regulations are individually weighted to represent their importance, meaning one minor issue could deliver a poor rating across the board.”

I agree that there is a discussion that needs to be had about the assessment and rating process. For many centres it is inequitable. But the standards themselves are great – in fact, the bar should be raised higher in many of them.

No specific changes are mentioned in the press release, but merely promises to “streamline” processes.

It is intimated in the release that there could be changes to qualification requirements and ratios.

Advocates for quality education and care should be concerned. Watch this space.

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