Tehan continues FDC focus in Budget crackdown
In the wake of claims of division and discrimination by the family day care (FDC) sector, Federal Education minister Dan Tehan announced yesterday that the Federal Government will “target rorters and fraudsters in a further crackdown to protect Australia’s FDC system.”
His statement comes as national FDC body Family Day Care Australia (FDCA) reveals that educators are leaving the sector, and feel less confident, because of comments such as these.
Mr Tehan has announced that the Government has committed an extra $52.2 million over 2018-19 to 2021-22 to tackle fraud and non-compliance issues in the FDC sector, saying the new investment would “strengthen the Government’s capacity to track, detect and shutdown those providers committing fraud.”
The focus on FDC has been branded as unfair by Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Education and Development Amanda Rishworth who said “there is a big difference between a robust, evidence-based compliance policy, and an arbitrary and secretive budget savings program”
Proud of the Government’s actions, Mr Tehan said “Since being elected, our Government’s action to stamp out fraud and non-compliance in the childcare sector has stopped around $2.8 billion of taxpayers’ money being ripped off.”
Targeted activity will build on the success of the first wave of the Government’s FDC “integrity crackdown” which saw more than 150 “high-risk providers” removed from the FDC sector – a move which Ms Rishworth says is part of a the “blunt regulatory regime” which has “undermined service viability, and forced closures which have impacted on the lives of educators, children and their families”.
Citing Senate Estimate remarks, Ms Rishworth has previously said the Department of Education and Training is “unfairly targeting” FDC providers in order to meet a target of 150 service closures to meet a Budget savings goal.
Mr Tehan has said the Government will “continue to work to detect and disrupt non-compliant and fraudulent services. There will also be greater cooperation between government agencies to protect other government payments.”
Pointing out that “the overwhelming majority of high-quality FDC providers who operate according to the law had nothing to fear from the next wave of compliance activity”, Mr Tehan said the new work will “target and weed out those who are giving the sector a bad name”.
“The majority of FDC services are committed to providing the best possible care for our children,” Mr Tehan said, adding that the Government would develop “education and support products” to assist FDC providers and services to understand and fulfil their compliance obligations.
Since 1 January 2014, 27 people have been charged with criminal offences for childcare fraud and of those, 21 have been found guilty.