IPART publishes ECEC submissions examining improvement opportunities in NSW
The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) is currently reviewing the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector with a view to identifying improvements that could be made through New South Wales Government initiatives and investment.
Specifically, the Tribunal is looking at what people in NSW need when it comes to affordability, accessibility and consumer choice in the ECEC space.
As part of the review process, the Tribunal has published its findings from a survey conducted in April, with nearly 60 per cent of respondents indicating that finding the services and care their family needs is difficult, and that access for families of children with additional and diverse needs is especially challenging.
“High-quality ECEC is a critical issue for NSW families, linked to better long-term educational outcomes for children and increased workforce participation for parents, especially women” said IPART Chair Carmel Donnelly.
As part of the consultation process with the ECEC sector, the Tribunal published an Issues Paper seeking feedback, which included a survey on the NSW Government’s Have Your Say website.
More than 1,100 people completed the survey, which has provided “very useful information,” Ms Donnelly said.
“While most reported that quality is the most important factor when choosing a service, more than 75 per cent said the out-of-pocket costs of using services have been a barrier to them returning to work or increasing their work hours.”
ECEC providers have also been considered in the responses, with Ms Donnelly noting the Tribunal is interested in what driving costs for providers and learning more about the barriers to them expanding their services to meet demand.
“Overwhelmingly, service providers told us that workforce shortages have affected their services, with most saying they have had trouble recruiting and retaining staff,” she explained.
“Providers also raised concerns about rising operating and capital costs, as well as the complexity and viability of how services are funded.”
While IPART’s review is focused on the NSW experience there are also two national inquiries into the sector under way, being conducted by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the Commonwealth Productivity Commission.
A second report will be released in August, which will capture the further feedback and results of investigations IPART is currently conducting, in consultation with the ECEC sector and the broader community.
There will also be further opportunities to provide feedback before IPART makes final recommendations in December 2023.
To register to get review updates, or for more information, visit www.ipart.nsw.gov.au
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