Jobs for Families Bill
The Senate Inquiry into the Family Assistance Legislation Amendment
(Jobs for Families Child Care Package) Bill 2016 (the Jobs for Families Bill) and
the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Family Payments Structural Reform
and Participation Measures) Bill 2016 (the Social Services Bill) received 46
submissions from peak bodies and experts in childcare and social security as
well as members of the public. A substantial number of submissions raised
concerns regarding these Bills.
Despite the evidence provided and concerns raised by these experts, the
Chair's report has recommended that these Bills be passed.
Jobs for Families Bill
The Australian Greens support the Jobs for Families Bill's purported aim
to 'improve access to the affordability of early childhood education and care'
and welcome the committee's recognition that access to high-quality early
childhood education and care is of substantial developmental benefit to
The Australian Greens remain concerned, however, that the measures
included in this Bill as currently drafted will not achieve these aims, and
will in fact result in a number of families being unable to access childcare or
receive reduced access to subsidised care.
The Australian Greens are concerned by the imposition of a minimum
requirement of 8 hours of activity per fortnight in order to receive subsidised
child care and note that a number of vulnerable families may not be able to
meet this minimum requirement. The Greens are therefore concerned that a number
of lower socio-economic and middle-income families will be ineligible for
adequate levels subsidised childcare under this scheme.
The Australian Greens also recognise concerns that the proposed activity
test inadvertently creates barriers to work for families where at least one
parent does not have secure, regular employment and believe amendments are
required to ensure the system is fair for parents engaged in irregular work and
does not leave them with inadequate child care subsidy to meet their work
commitments, or higher childcare costs. Without amendment, this activity test
will present a barrier for new mothers trying to re-enter the workforce through
casual and irregular employment. Without a minimum amount of childcare
guaranteed, many parents will find it near impossible to take on extra hours of
The Australian Greens also remain concerned that the Bill may have a
detrimental impact on children from remote and rural parts of Australia, and in
particular Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. The Australian
Greens refer to concerns raised by the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and
Islander Child Care (SNAICC) in their submission and in their evidence
provided at the public hearing, in particular:
The proposed closure of the Budget Based Funding Program;
The risk posed to the loss or reduction to the Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander sector; and
The increased cost of service delivery to remote areas, in
particular for Indigenous communities.
The Australian Greens are further concerned that the introduction of the
activity test will reduce access to subsidised childcare for vulnerable
children and is counter to the acknowledged need to increase participation in
early childhood services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.
The Australian Greens are concerned that the Chair does not appear to
have appropriately responded to and addressed the concerns raised by the vast
majority of experts regarding this Bill. There is a real risk that the impacts
of a tougher activity test will further disadvantage families with irregular
work hours and new mothers re-entering the workforce. Some of the most
vulnerable children in our nation, particularly those from Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander communities, will lose out if these measures are
Recommendations – Jobs for Families Bill
Recommendation 1: The Australian Greens recommend that the
activity test be amended to include an additional amount of base level
subsidised childcare for all families that fall within the 0-8 hours of
activity to a minimum of two full days care.
Recommendation 2: The Australian Greens recommend that an
adequately flexible reporting grace period be adopted that allows all casual
workers, part-time workers with irregular hours or people who lose their jobs
to estimate their expected activity and childcare needs, so as not to be
disadvantaged by the activity test.
Recommendation 3: The Australian Greens recommend that unless
additional funding for services which meets the needs of vulnerable children in
remote and regional Australia and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
children is provided, that the current Budget Based Funding levels remain in
Recommendation 4: The Australian Greens recommend an amendment to
include mechanisms for increasing childcare places where vacancy rates are
critically low, creating barriers to parents being able to find affordable
Recommendation 5: The Australian Greens recommend that providers
of In Home Care be explicitly referenced in the Bill as being eligible for
Child Care Subsidy payments.
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