Nurch Childcare Loyalty Awards impacted by ECEC legislation change
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Nurch Childcare Loyalty Awards impacted by ECEC legislation change

by Freya Lucas

June 05, 2023

Nurch Childcare Loyalty Rewards, Australia’s first childcare loyalty rewards partner has collapsed after the Federal Government made changes to the legislation for the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector which restricts benefits being provided to families enrolled in ECEC, aside from providing education and care. 


The Department of Education changed the legislation stating that as of 1st January 2023,  early childhood education and care providers are unable to provide any benefits that are financial or not directly associated with the quality or provision of education or care services, including cash, vouchers, IPads, tablets, electronic devices, or other gifts. 


While gifts and incentives have been widely used throughout the ECEC sector to encourage new enrolments,  Nurch Childcare Loyalty Rewards rewarded existing families with digital gift cards, to build centre sustainability through enrolment retention. 


Despite attempts to oppose the ruling, the Department recently ruled that under Section 48B of the Child Care Subsidy Minister’s Rules, Nurch is likely to induce parents and carers to enrol or increase their existing bookings through the presence of its program.

“The provision of digital gift cards to families in exchange for loyalty rewards points is a benefit we consider would be reasonably likely to induce a person to commence or maintain an enrolment of a child with a particular provider”,  Joel Livingston , Director of Market Policy in the Department’s Child Care Division stated. 

The Minister’s Rules state that an ECEC provider is unable to provide a benefit if it would be reasonably likely to induce a person to:


  • commence or maintain an enrolment of a child with the provider or
  • engage in greater quantity of care under that enrollment.


Nurch opposed the finding, submitting a new program proposal which would overhaul its existing offering to a model which is similar to G8 Education’s Childcare Saver program, which has been able to continue operations as the ‘alternative model,’ which was denied.


“It is very unclear why the government has not commented or addressed why they denied our proposal of an alternative model, since knowing about it in January when the rules came into force”, Kara Smyth, General Manager at Nurch said.


Since its launch in September 2019, Nurch’sASIC compliant and“much-loved” program successfully increased centre retention by an average of 10 per cent across its 57 total partner centres. 


During Nurch’s operation over 8000 families benefited and claimed more than $3.54 million worth of financial reward points that many used to contribute to everyday spending such as groceries, fuel and often Christmas shopping.


“In one year, our Nurch points added up to $1000. The gift-cards redemptions contributed towards Christmas presents for our children, food and we were also able to take our children on a short holiday”, Nurch member, Bridgette Waye shared.


Ms Waye voluntarily organised a petition to Childcare Minister Anne Alye, that saw almost 2000 signatures in support of reinstating Nurch. “These benefits that our daycare provided, while may seem insignificant to some, meant the world to us”.


Nurch employed six employees during its operations, and was awarded an abundance of accolades, including national and international recognition at some of the world’s premier business awards, particularly for its innovation and corporate social responsibility which included $133,000in unclaimed points donated to charity. 


Founder, Brent Thompson, expressed his disappointment with the Department’s decision while also acknowledging and recognising the team for their short-lived success.


“Although we are disappointed with the Department’s final decision, we are extremely proud of what we achieved at Nurch, and are immensely grateful to have had some remarkable professionals in our corner,” he said.


Mr Thompson sent a special mention and thank you to employees Sarah Teasdale, Othon Ferreira, Lucy Charles, Aishwarya Dongare, Robert Brinkmann, Melissa Molinaro, Founders Glenn Noy, Kara Smyth, NOUS, Shared Marketing, Mint Imaging and Kiera Elliot-Pickett of Strong Digital Marketing.


Ms Smyth also thanked the families and partner centres who continued to support Nurch and its mission to make a positive change in the ECEC sector. 


Leading up to the closure, Nurch had a designated customer service team contact families who had any remaining points on their account to encourage them to redeem them. Nurch donated the remaining $70,000 of unclaimed reward points to Brisbane-based charity Ashton’s Place.

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