The Federal Government’s new Childcare in Australia report has revealed that out-of-pocket costs soared as the government’s subsidies failed to cover the rising cost of childcare fees at the start of the year.
The report shows childcare fees rose in the March quarter and parents or carers are paying an average of $10 an hour – almost five per cent more than the same time last year. It found that the government’s total estimated expenditure for the March quarter was $1.94bn compared to $2.14bn in the December quarter, almost 10 per cent less.
The government’s subsidies failed to cover the rising cost of childcare fees.
The report contains figures from the March quarter, prior to the childcare subsidy increase and fee freeze for providers put in place by the government during the pandemic. Both of these pandemic measures have now been scrapped and this report reveals what the future now holds for Australian families.
Thrive by Five CEO Jay Weatherill, who has been advocating for universally accessible and high quality early learning, said the government’s own figures showed the need for serious changes in the system.
“Access to and affordability of early learning have become the single biggest issue affecting cost of living for Australian families,” Mr Weatherill said.
“Childcare fees have risen faster than electricity bills and private health insurance over the past three years, and now absorb about a quarter of household income for an average-earning couple with two young children.
“We need a better early learning system for children, parents, educators and the Australian economy, especially as we try to recover from this crisis. Childcare needs to be a priority for our policy makers.”