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Australian Childcare Alliance
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With the budget axe expected to be wielded in less than a fortnight, the Australian Childcare Alliance has questioned the merits of the Abbott Government’s controversial Paid Parental Leave scheme, calling for funds to be re-directed to early childhood education and care.

“Whilst the Paid Parental Leave scheme may assist parents in staying at home to care for their children during their incredibly important first six months, the question that has not yet been answered is what happens next,” Australian Childcare Alliance President Gwynn Bridge said today.

“More than a million children are already in early childhood education and care, the majority of whom are in long day care,” Ms Bridge said.

“Whilst supply and demand varies across the country, there are many long day care services with massive waiting lists, especially for babies, and our concern is that families will be facing an uncertain future once Paid Parental Leave expires, given that Government has not earmarked increased investment in the sector.

The Australian Childcare Alliance represents 70 per cent of the long day care sector. Australian Childcare Alliance staff care for more than 400 000 children nationally, a figure that is growing exponentially as a result of parents’ increasing work hours.

“The Prime Minister and Federal Treasurer have made it clear that this will be a tight budget,” Ms Bridge said.

“As such, is the Paid Parental Leave scheme the best spend when evidence suggests that investing in high quality early childhood education and care has long-term, significant benefits for children?

“International research is proving time and time again that investment in early childhood education and care delivers solid returns to tax-payers, with every dollar invested saving taxpayers up to $13 and generating a 15 - 17 per cent return to society,” Ms Bridge said.

“Imagine the benefits to children, families and the economy more broadly if even a portion of the $5.5 billion earmarked for Paid Parental Leave scheme was re-directed to early childhood education and care initiatives,” Ms Bridge said.

“We absolutely want to see an effective Paid Parental Leave scheme operating in Australia. But without the building blocks to help families after that critically important first six months, the positive legacy the Government intends to leave could be negated,” Ms Bridge concluded.

ENDS

Media enquiries: ACA President Gwynn Bridge - 0418 764 779