The Turnbull Liberal Government has quietly gutted a national childcare program which is set to leave more than 50 neighbourhood houses across Victoria without vital funding.
Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham has confirmed he will cut the National Occasional Care Program, leaving kids, parents and neighbourhood houses out to dry in just four months’ time.
The program – due to expire in July – funds flexible childcare for 143 providers in Victoria, 52 of which are neighbourhood houses.
Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos said Malcolm Turnbull’s cut will rip away more than $800,000 per year in total, at an average of $15,417 per house.
One third of the neighbourhood houses affected are in regional areas, where they are often the only childcare provider in the community.
The Andrews Labor Government is calling on the Liberals to continue the program to give local families some peace of mind, or immediately provide adequate, comparable alternative childcare subsidies.
The Turnbull Liberal Government still can’t say if neighbourhood houses are covered for funding under its new Commonwealth Child Care Package, which – if applicable – is likely to place a huge administrative burden on staff by forcing the adoption of a new payment system and reporting requirements.
Meanwhile, the Andrews Labor Government continues to be a proud supporter of neighbourhood houses, and funds 375 houses in Victoria along with 16 neighbourhood house networks. In 2017-18, we provided more than $30 million in recurrent funding to support neighbourhood houses, house networks and the peak body, Neighbourhood Houses Victoria.
Last year, the Labor Government increased its support to the sector by providing a further $210,000 to Neighbourhood Houses Victoria to deliver more information and support to boost the management and governance of houses where needed.
Each week, over 188,000 people visit a neighbourhood house in Victoria and more than 5,000 volunteer at one.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos
“Neighbourhood houses are a wonderful part of our communities – and that’s why we continue to back them.”
“While we’re investing, the Federal Liberals have slashed the occasional childcare program and put funding at risk – all while the Victorian Coalition simply stands by and watches.”
“Our local children, and those who care for them deserve better. Once again, Malcolm Turnbull is dudding Victorians and ripping away vital funding.”
Reviewed 19 August 2020