Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos has called on the Turnbull Government to cease funding new family day care services in areas already saturated with services, and undertake a review of the sector.
The arrest last week of two men in Sydney on charges relating to fraudulent claims of family day care payments highlights the need for the Turnbull Government to sharpen its focus on the sector.
During the past two years, the Andrews Labor Government has tightened processes for approval of education and care services, and stepped up its investigation and enforcement action of regulatory breaches in this sector.
The Victorian Department of Education and Training (DET) has prohibited 10 persons, deregistered 32 providers and prosecuted one family day carer and one provider. In December 2015, the Department closely worked on an Australian Federal Police-led taskforce that resulted in 12 Victorians being arrested and charged.
In addition to addressing outright fraud, which is a Commonwealth responsibility, there are a range of sensible limits and actions the Commonwealth should undertake to improve the system’s integrity.
Under Commonwealth rules and its dated IT systems, it is currently possible for:
- Family day care providers to be paid for more than the permitted seven children in their own home
- Family day care providers to claim long hours for school aged children including teenagers for overnight and/or weekends
- The number of family day care educators claiming Commonwealth subsidies to exceed the number approved by the regulator.
It is unfortunate that these issues are tarnishing the work done by honest and skilled Family Day Care services across Victoria and Australia.
DET will continue to protect Victoria’s youngest by investigating any notifications regarding breaches of the National Law and where necessary bringing them before the courts and shut down offenders.
Anyone who believes a service is fraudulent should contact the Commonwealth Tip-off Line on 1800 664 231.
Quotes attributable to the Minister for Families and Children, Jenny Mikakos
“Victorian families are well entitled to ask why they should be subsidising, for example, a 19 year old caring for 18 year old twins, under Commonwealth Government current rules.”
“Commonwealth funding to the Victorian Department has not kept pace with an estimated 400 per cent growth in Family Day Care services over the past 7 years.”
“This comes at a time where the Turnbull Government has not even provided funding certainty of ongoing funding for Victorian families for 15 hours of funded kindergarten.”
Reviewed 19 August 2020