Early childhood education provider will not go ahead with new development if the school start age is lowered
Government has not listened to sector or parents
Families priced out of child care and sector will become unviable
The Hodgman Government’s unnecessary and deeply flawed plan to lower Tasmania’s school starting age will place child care beyond the reach of Tasmanian families and gut the early childhood education sector.
Labor Leader Rebecca White said a major new state-of-the-art Early Childhood Education and Care centre long planned for Bridgewater was now unlikely to go ahead as a result of uncertainty in the sector about future viability.
“Discovery Early Learning Centres has council approval to go ahead with its new centre and even has a $400,000 government grant to build it to replace its Gunn Street premises,” Ms White said.
“The government funding was provided to help ensure that the local community had access to affordable and high quality early education and care programs.
“But it is now unlikely this new build will go ahead as the early childhood education sector becomes unviable because of the Liberals Government’s push to lower the school starting age to three years.
“The Discovery group estimates that families in areas such as Ravenswood in Launceston and Bridgewater will see out-of-pocket costs for families more than double as the child care sector faces reductions in enrolments of about 60 per cent as a consequence of the unnecessary move to send very young children into classrooms.”
Modelling carried out by the organisation shows that in Bridgewater, the out of pocket costs of sending a child to long day care for one day will increase from $45 to $80 for a high income family or from $16.60 to $52.00 a day for a low income family.
“That puts child care beyond the reach of most families – especially families with lower incomes. That means mums and dads will have to give up work or study and their children will effectively be excluded from education and care until they are old enough to attend school,” Ms White said.
“That means the early childhood education sector will reduce its operations and it is likely that there will be no long day care available in the Brighton region and other regions throughout Tasmania.
“Jeremy Rockliff has got this dramatically wrong because he has not consulted, he has not listened and he has not offered a legitimate reason for lowering Tasmania’s school starting age to three years.
“Mr Rockliff is creating an elitist child care system in Tasmania where child care will become a luxury and that is just plain wrong.”
Rebecca White MP Labor Leader