Council-run ECEC services under threat without JobKeeper ALGA says

by Freya Lucas

June 01, 2020

The Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) has said that council-run early childhood education and care (ECEC) services are “racking up big financial losses” in their struggle to stay open without access to the Commonwealth Government’s JobKeeper program.

 

One Melbourne council, the City of Whitehorse, has had to close two of its four childcare centres in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, and is forecasting a $650,000 loss for the current quarter. 

 

A number of staff (18 short term contract staff and 13 casual staff ) who were previously employed at the two sites have been stood down, with the Council telling ALGA that the Victorian Government “refused the council’s plea for urgent financial support”, telling it to “take the matter to the Federal Government”.

18 short term contract staff and 13 casual staff were stood down


The Whitehorse account is just one of many which the ALGA says raises “the injustice of local government association (LGA) managed services being denied access to JobKeeper payments that private childcare providers can apply for on behalf of their employees”. 

 

The Whitehorse submission noted the ‘dismay’ felt by the Council, who said the current structure shows an inequity of support for LGA-managed services. Similar sentiments were shared by Bassendean Town Council in Perth who said the Early Childhood and Care Relief package “has created market distortion with support being available for private service providers and to the detriment of Local Government operating in the same market”.

 

The Bassendean Town Council told ALGA that it is dealing with a 50 per cent income drop from its community-based childcare operation after being prohibited from charging families an out-of-pocket fee when the child care subsidy was suspended on 2 April.

 

The District Council of Karoonda East Murray says its Mallee Kids Child Centre in South Australia is “no longer running at break-even point [and] tough decisions will need to be made in the near future for the facility to remain running”.

 

These and other accounts of council childcare operations during the COVID-19 crisis are contained in a submission ALGA is preparing for a Senate Select Committee inquiry into the Australian Government’s response to the pandemic.

 

To learn more about the advocacy work of the ALGA, please see here

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