November 3rd, 2022

Thrive by Five welcomes release of terms of reference for ACCC inquiry into rising early learning and childcare costs.


Thrive by Five welcomes release of terms of reference for ACCC inquiry into rising early learning and childcare costs

02 November 2022 – The Minderoo Foundation’s Thrive by Five initiative has welcomed the announcement of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) terms of references for the national inquiry into the skyrocketing costs of early learning and childcare.

For the full terms of reference please see attached.

The cost of early learning and childcare in Australia is amongst the highest in OECD countries[1]. According to the Federal Government childcare fees have soared by 41 per cent in the past eight years[2], putting a significant strain on household budgets.

The 12-month inquiry will commence in January 2023 and will be funded by a $10.8 million commitment that was announced in the recent Federal Budget[3]. The terms of reference will scrutinise why prices within the sector have been rising despite increasing state and federal subsidies. It will also examine other factors impacting demand such as critical workforce shortages.

Thrive by Five Director Jay Weatherill says, “The increasing cost of early learning and care is at the heart of rising cost of living concerns for families with young children. It is stretching family budgets and leaving many parents struggling to send their kids to childcare or take on paid work.

“This Inquiry is a welcome commitment by the Federal Government as they seek to alleviate the cost of early learning to make it more accessible for families.

“With costs of living continuing to rise; high quality, accessible, and affordable childcare is essential for Australian families, and will give many parents the opportunity to return to work sooner, especially women who often bear the brunt of caring for their children in the early years.

“The fact that the Inquiry will address the cost and factors affecting the market in different geographical locations of Australia is particularly welcomed.  We know there are communities that are Childcare Deserts – where there are not enough childcare places for all the families that want them.”

The interim report is due to be handed down by the end of June 2023, with the final report expected to be delivered no later than 31 December 2023.

“We look forward to the ACCC’s findings, with the hope it will help improve the wellbeing of families, nurture childhood development and boost workforce participation and the economy,” Mr Weatherill said

“Thrive By Five urges the Federal Government to work with its state counterparts to accelerate reform within the sector by removing the activity test, valuing early learning workers and restoring funding for Aboriginal-led children and families centres.”