FDC educators exiting the sector in the face of divisive Government language
Family Day Care Australia (FDCA) has called on the Federal Government to “reframe” their approach and language when discussing the family day care (FDC) sector, based on recent statements by Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan.
Mr Tehan recently opened a media release with the sentence “Dodgy childcare providers rorting or misusing Australia’s FDC system are being cut off from receiving Government subsidies”.
FDCA CEO Andrew Paterson expressed concern about the impact of Mr Tehan’s statement, and others like it, saying that the association of FDC with fraudulent practice had “undermined sector confidence”.
“Our organisation and the sector more broadly have, despite the challenges, been advocates for compliance reform and enforcement but the blunt instrument approach is impacting legitimate providers and in turn, Australian children and families,” Mr Patterson said.
“Not only have we seen disproportionate compliance enforcement, but the continued rhetoric around rorters and fraudsters has undermined sector confidence,” he added.
“The Minister suggests that legitimate providers had nothing to fear, unfortunately the heavy-handed approach to date has left the sector reeling.”
FDCA has seen a sharp decline in educators and services across 2018, with educators decreasing by over 14 per cent from 31 March 2018 to 30 September 2018. Service numbers decreased by over 13 per cent during the same time period.
Mr Patterson pointed to the decline, saying “Market restrictions and sustained regulatory reform have been compounded by the removal of the operational funding that supported the service’s role in co-regulation.”
“Legitimate growth and viability have been undermined and the cumulative impacts have seen quality providers unable to sustain their operations and in turn exiting the sector,” Mr Patterson said.
FDCA described 2019 as “an opportune time” for the Federal Government to reassess their approach to supporting the FDC sector, through “focusing on incentivising higher quality” and reducing “restrictions on growth. They also asked the government to leverage on the “unique capacity of providers to meet the diverse needs of Australian children, families and communities”
Compliance was on the reform agenda also, with FDCA asking the Government to “take a reformed and consultative approach to compliance”, as committed to by the Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Education and Development Amanda Rishworth, at the FDCA National Conference in September 2018.
During the conference, Ms Rishworth stated “I am concerned that the Government’s compliance program has no interest in supporting high-quality FDC, and is sending a signal there is no future for high-quality providers and educators. I am worried it is casting its net so wide it is now ensnaring honest, quality providers.
“We will adopt a reformed, more targeted and more collaborative approach to compliance, as opposed to a blunt instrument approach that risks legitimate service providers being unfairly caught up in the current compliance regime,” she said.