ACCC INTERIM REPORT CONFIRMS URGENT NEED FOR UNIVERSALLY ACCESSIBLE EARLY LEARNING SYSTEM
07 July 2023 – Findings from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)’s interim report on childcare services reveal fees rose higher than inflation and wage growth between 2018-2022, . demonstrating the urgent need for a universally accessible and affordable, quality early learning system.
The report also found that the Child Care Subsidy (CCS) Activity Test, acts as a barrier preventing many families from accessing quality early learning for their children.
The report found that an increase in childcare and early learning fees was observed across all early childhood education and care settings, with for-profit providers charging a higher fee than not-for-profit providers.
Other key findings include:
- Government policies, including the Activity Test, are preventing many families from accessing necessary childcare subsidies.
- Early learning and childcare services are not equally distributed across Australia, with a higher concentration of services in advantaged urban parts of the country compared to other areas
- The number of childcare services charging fees above the Commonwealth-set fee threshold had doubled since 2018.
Griffin Longley, from Minderoo Foundation’s Thrive by Five campaign, said that the ACCC’s interim report highlighted the need for reform of Australia’s early learning system.
“These findings confirm what we’ve been hearing from parents and families across the nation who identify rising costs and a lack of suitable services close to home as key challenges for accessing quality early learning for their children,” Mr Longley said.
“The report finds for-profit providers are charging more than the non-profit and charity sector and large parts of Australia are without any early learning services.
“This shows childcare services are falling way short of a universally accessible system in which every child had access to quality early learning, regardless of where they live or their parents’ circumstances.
“The Commonwealth Government could act now by fixing the Activity Test, which has been identified as a major barrier for families accessing early learning, including in this ACCC report.
“The move towards a universally accessible early learning system also relies on greater government oversight of childcare service providers, including those who choose to profiteer from next week’s increase to the childcare subsidy by increasing fees well above the increase to their costs.
“We look forward to the ACCC’s final report and to working with the Commonwealth Government to help establish a universal, high-quality early learning system in Australia that ensures all families and children have a fairer future,” he said.