After years of floundering under successive early childhood ministers (and Prime Ministers), the Jobs for Families Package – now wrapped up into a ridiculous Omnibus Bill – is likely to come before Parliament in the next two weeks.
Education Minister Simon Birmingham is piling on the pressure.
Enough is enough. Parliament must this fortnight provide hardworking Australian families with child care relief & back our reforms https://t.co/CZhLgQKpUg
— Simon Birmingham (@Birmo) March 19, 2017
You can find my specific, long-held concerns with this package can be found elsewhere on this site. The Government’s desperation to pass these “reforms”, alongside cruel welfare savings measures in a desperate bid to maintain any semblance of being “strong economic managers”, will see the tone set by Minister Birmingham continue during this time.
This needs to be called out for what it is. The system is broken, and families are paying too much for their children to access early childhood centres that may be inaccessible. But these reforms are not the answer to those questions, and in fact slash access for huge numbers of children. But in order to force them through, the Government is actually pitting families against their own children’s right to access early education.
It’s hard to think of a lower political act. But hey, they’ve got a couple of weeks so let’s not rule anything out.
It highlights the false choice that has been given to the sector since this process started – including by peak bodies in the early childhood sector. “It’s this or nothing”.
No, it’s this or a hugely better reform package. How about that?
I’m amazed by the amount of time that has been spent by the sector trying to make these reforms slightly better, even to the point on compromising on a lower level of minimum access hours than we have currently. Even to the point of providing detailed funding options to the Government.
It seems madness that I have to actually say this in black and while, but the job of advocacy is not to do the Government’s work for them. We advocate for children. We propose a system that gives all children they access research tells us they need, and a strongly-supported sector that can deliver it. Working out how to fund it is the Government’s job.
The Government has barely mentioned children when advocating these reforms. They say funds need to go to “the right parents”. They’ve linked it to welfare cuts that will leave the most vulnerable worse off. They’ve used fee pressures on families as a bargaining chip.
This is the Government we should apparently be working with.