The Australian Government delivered record levels of support to families and the child care sector. During 2013–14, the Government provided over $5.6 billion in child care fee assistance. This included $3.0 billion for Child Care Benefit (
CCB) and $2.6 billion for Child Care Rebate (
The department provided a substantial submission to the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Child Care and Early Childhood Learning. The submission described the Australian child care and early learning system and relevant government policies and programmes.
The department also provided submissions for two Senate inquiries into child care: ‘Delivery of quality and affordable early childhood education and care services’; and ‘Immediate future of the child care sector in Australia’. The submissions described the Australian child care and early learning system and relevant government policies and programmes, and provided additional information to address specific terms of reference.
The department facilitated the Ministerial Review of the Early Years Quality Fund. The outcomes were publicly released in December 2013.
The department established a new professional development programme—the Long Day Care Professional Development Programme—to assist all educators in long day care centres to meet the qualification requirements under the
NQF and improve quality outcomes for children.
The review of the
BBF programme was completed and announced by the Hon Sussan Ley MP in June 2014. The review has resulted in changes to the programme that will further embed quality improvement in
BBF services and inform future policy.
The department, on behalf of the Australian Government, commenced the review of the National Partnership Agreement on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education to determine whether the objectives have been met.
The department, on behalf of the Australian Government, commenced the review of the National Partnership Agreement on the National Quality Agenda for Early Childhood Education and Care.
The Standing Council on School Education and Early Childhood agreed to amendments to the Education and Care Services National Regulations to improve the operation of the
NQF. The amendments commenced on 1 June 2014 in all states and territories except Western Australia. The amendments relate to staffing arrangements, the physical environment of child care and early learning services and transitional provisions to deal with workforce shortages in remote and very remote areas.
In 2013–14, the department implemented a more sophisticated results-oriented approach to child care payments compliance; strengthened compliance operations; and imposed sanctions and penalties on 19 services, including cancelling or suspending 10 child care services approvals.
Under the infrastructure element of the
BBF Quality Measure, 17 infrastructure projects were completed, with five new builds and 12 refurbishments.
Under the workforce element of the
BBF Quality Measure, participants achieved around 100 qualifications. A further 384 participants were working towards a qualification.
The first 25 new locations of
HIPPY, with an emphasis on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, commenced operations in 2014. A process to select the final 25 locations is underway, while programme delivery continues in the first 50 locations.
The department engaged the University of Technology Sydney: Centre for Local Government to develop the Best Practice Guidelines for Planning and Development of Child Care Facilities, which will be used by local governments to streamline child care approval processes and build community support for child care. The guidelines are designed to provide national-level guidance for local government, child care operators and developers on the planning and development of child care facilities. They will be made available on the department's website.
The implementation of the Child Care Flexibility Trials is nearing completion with 244 families participating. Fifty action-based research projects have also commenced in 65 Outside School Hours Care services across Australia.
Changes to the Community Support Programme (
CSP) will enable programme funding to be better targeted to child care services in regional, remote and disadvantaged communities.
Results from the second Early Childhood Education and Care Workforce Census, which took place between May and August 2013, were released in May 2014.