Childcare costs take their toll

Childcare costs take their toll

The discussion took place during a virtual community meeting on Monday, hosted by Member for Burt Matt Keogh and Member for Armadale Tony Buti. 

Local families have been among the hardest hit by rising childcare costs, with the latest data showing fees in Perth’s south-east to have risen by almost six per cent last year.

According to data from the Department of Education, fees in Armadale, Gosnells and Canning increased about 5.75 per cent between 2018 and 2019 – well above the national increase of 4.6 per cent.

The news comes just weeks after the federal government ceased its COVID-19 free childcare scheme, instead reintroducing subsidies for families.

Member for Burt Matt Keogh said the move could have serious repercussions and that the federal government should ensure early education was affordable, accessible and high quality.

“This data shows that before the pandemic, out of pocket childcare costs were taking a huge chunk out of household budgets,” he said.

“Now in the middle of a recession, when families are struggling to get by, these fees will be out of reach for many.

“Families who have taken a pay cut over the past few months could be forced to give up childcare, and in turn parents will be forced to give up work.

“If families are forced to withdraw their children from early learning, it is worst-case scenario for everyone.

“Parents will have to turn down work, children will miss out on early education, and providers will suffer from a drop in demand.

“The recent cancellation of JobKeeper from this sector is a yet another blow and charging full fees for families will also put further strain on the family budget.

“The government’s bungling of childcare subsidies meant centres that were going to close have now had to increase fees.

“This isn’t the fault of early learning and childcare centres; it’s the unwillingness of the government to help struggling families and centres.”

But Minister for Education Dan Tehan said the temporary relief package had done its job, having kept 99 per cent of the nation’s 13,400 services open and viable.

With Australia reopen for business Mr Tehan said there had been an increase in demand for childcare services, with attendance at 74 per cent of pre-COVID levels.

The federal government is expected to support families through the transition by stopping fee increases and providing more than $8.3 billion a year to help them with the cost of childcare.