Childcare in Australia
Australia is becoming more and more geared toward enabling people to re-join, or remain in, the workforce if it suits their circumstances. One way this is happening is through the State-subsidised provision of childcare. This article contains information on how to access childcare in Australia and how the Australian childcare system works.
How Childcare Works in Australia
More than 870,000 children use childcare in Australia every day. It’s been a growth industry over the past 20 years, for a variety of reasons. For instance, more and more women have joined the workforce or continued to work after the birth of their baby, many families have also come to rely on two incomes, and in some cases parents in single parent families rely on childcare so they can work. As Australia struggles with a skills shortage, both the government and employers are enticing as many people into the workforce as possible.
There are close to 6000 long day care services across the nation and these focus not just on entertaining a child while their family is at work, but also educating and caring for them.
Finding a Childcare Centre
There are privately operated childcare centres across Australia. They need Government accreditation to operate; so ensure any centre you enquire with can produce their documentation. You can always check a centre’s status with the National Childcare Accreditation Council.
You can access various kinds of day care in Australia, including long day care (the whole working day), occasional care, family day care (where your child is looked after by a carer and within the carer’s home), before school care, after school care, vacation care and ‘in home’ care. You just need to decide how many hours you need, when you need help, and what kind of care environment you want to place your child.
Most centres will have spaces available, but occasionally you’ll find a centre has a waiting list. To find a childcare centre near you, visit the Australian Government’s MyChild website. The Government also has priority access guidelines to ensure the childcare system is fair.
The Australian Government provides financial assistance through the Child Care Benefit and the Child Care Rebate to help families access the day care they need.
Child Care Benefit
Child Care Benefit is income tested and paid directly to childcare providers to reduce the fees you pay to the centre.
Child Care Rebate
The rebate is a separate payment either made directly to the centre or into your account. It can mean getting back up to 50 per cent of your out-of-pocket costs for day care. This is not income tested.
To find out more, check out the Family Assistance Office website. You can also visit a Family Assistance Office in person, usually located within a Medicare office.
To receive these payments you must qualify for Approved Child Care, which has a residency requirement. This includes quite a few temporary visa categories, so check your visa status against the list.
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