'Not a sustainable model:' PM says childcare relief package under review

Young girl playing with educational toys
Young girl playing with educational toys Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Whether parents will continue to receive support with childcare fees beyond the current June expiry date of the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package, remains up in the air after Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed it was under review.

"The Education minister is currently considering the program beyond its current expiry," Scott Morrison said during a press conference on Friday afternoon.

"It was put in place as a temporary measure. And, as you'll recall, it was effectively suspending the normal payment arrangements and subsidy arrangements that have been in place, and moved to that different model for a period of time to give a certainty of income to those facilities, to enable them to operate, which combined with the JobKeeper payment, enabled them to do just that.

"But that is not a sustainable model for how the childcare sector should work, and nor was it intended to be."

The Prime Minister noted that while no final decisions had been made, "the intention was always to return to the payment arrangements and subsidy arrangements that had been put in place prior to those things coming into effect." 

The measures, which were announced in April, were slated to benefit almost one million families and approximately 13,000 facilities around the country. But while free childcare for essential workers was a welcome relief to many, the scheme has been riddled with problems for both centres and parents.

Reduced revenue meant providers were turning children away, while other parents faced a reduction in their days 

In early May, Minister for Education Dan Tehan said the Government had expanded the eligibility for additional supplementary payments for providers not eligible for JobKeeper Payments, to ensure more centres remained open and viable.

"Providers that are not eligible for the JobKeeper Payment, including non-government schools, large charities and not-for-profit organisations, will be eligible for a top-up payment," Mr Tehan said, adding that services that can show an increase in demand compared to the reference period, especially for children of essential workers and/or vulnerable and disadvantaged children, may also be eligible for an additional payment.

"Our Government introduced the Relief Package and expanded the additional supplementary payments to continue to ensure the viability of the sector, helping more working families and vulnerable and disadvantaged children access care," he said.

The package is set to expire on 28 June.