Regional

WA Labor commits to improve access to childcare in the regions

Posted on February 26, 2021
  • WA Labor will invest $5.1 million into improving access to childcare in the regions
  • Funding will be provided to support the creation of and viability of providers
  • Includes $1 million to fund retention and attraction strategies for childcare workers
  • As part of the Lower Fees, Local Skills initiative, TAFE fees for Early Childhood Education and Care courses have been slashed by 50 per cent

A re-elected McGowan Labor Government will invest $5.1 million into a range of initiatives to improve access to childcare in the regions, making it more accessible and affordable for families.

Ensuring that Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) is sustainable, accessible and affordable to families can be difficult in regional areas. Problems like access to suitable facilities, attracting and retaining suitably qualified staff and maintaining a steady flow of clientele in communities where populations and workforces can be more transient and seasonal is a challenge.

But there are good models that provide opportunities for rural and regional child care to be more accessible and affordable.

A McGowan Labor Government will invest $4.1 million to support the viability of regional childcare by working with regional providers to deliver either;

  • advice, support and resources to services, or
  • a ‘clustering’ model, which creates a backbone organisation, to which smaller centres roll into, which assumes responsibility for financial management, governance, compliance and reporting, allowing the centre to focus on the day to day operations of the centre.

A new $1 million program will also be developed in consultation with regional local governments to support them in attracting and retaining childcare workers.

The capping of fees for Early Childhood Education and Care courses under the McGowan Labor Government’s Lower Fees Local Skills (LFLS) initiative at $400 per annum for concession students and youth and $1200 per annum for non-concession students is also supporting the training of a skilled workforce in regional WA. These fee caps also apply to New Worker Trainees and any existing workers undertaking the qualification outside of a traineeship arrangement.

Early Childhood Education and Care qualifications are being delivered at regional TAFEs in Albany, Bunbury, Busselton, Derby, Fitzroy Crossing, Margaret River, Katanning, Harvey, Manjimup, Narrogin, Esperance, Geraldton, Kalgoorlie, Northam, Mandurah, Broome, Halls Creek, Karratha, Kununurra, Minurmarghali Mia (Roebourne), Newman, Pundulmurra, Tom Price and Wyndham.

The package will help improve access to childcare in regions such as the Pilbara, Goldfields-Esperance, and the Kimberley, which have significant waiting lists, challenges attracting staff, lack of suitable facilities and a need for support in governance and management.

Comments attributed to Premier Mark McGowan:

“Early childhood education and care is so important for young children to help them learn, grow and play.

“It is also an important service for parents who want to return to the workforce in the knowledge that their children are being cared for in a caring and professional environment.

“The economic benefits of this package are two-fold, they help the parents in their careers and also benefit the economy through increased participation.

“It is all part of our commitment to keep Western Australian strong.”