Prime Minister confirms intention to go back to CCS, but as yet roadmap remains elusive
In a press conference held at Parliament House, Canberra on 15 May 2020, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, in response to a question from a journalist, confirmed that the ECEC Relief Package of fixed payments combined with JobKeeper, designed to buffer the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector from the economic impact of COVID-19 served a specific purpose “but the intention was always to return to the payment arrangements and subsidy arrangements that had been put in place prior to those things coming into effect.”
These comments come in the wake of calls from peak body Early Childhood Australia to introduce a three month transition period before returning to the status quo and a sector that awaits the outcome of the ECEC Relief Package four week review and any policy measures or adjustments that may flow from it.
This latter point is particularly pressing as demand for ECEC services continues to pick up as schools return and confidence builds yet operators’ ability to increase enrolments remains somewhat constrained by the current payment system which determines income based on a reference period from early March.
The Prime Minister opened his comments by noting that the “Education Minister is currently considering the program beyond its current expiry, and it was put in place as a temporary measure” before adding that “it (the program) was effectively suspending the normal payment arrangements and subsidy arrangements that had been in place and moved to a different model for a period of time to give a certainty of income to those facilities to enable them to operate, which combined with the JobKeeper payment, enable them to do just that. But that is not a sustainable model for how the child care sector should work, and nor was it intended to be.”
At this juncture no final decisions have been made in relation to the ECEC Relief Package four week review outcomes and any policy adjustments that may come from it.
To read the transcript of the Prime Minister’s press conference please click here.