children playing

Child care increase for families [AU]

Printer-friendly versionSend by emailPDF version
Hudson, Phillip
Publication Date: 
16 May 2004

See text below.


More than 540,000 families will receive a 2.4 per cent weekly increase in child-care benefits from July 5.

The inflation-linked rise will deliver up to $3.50 a week extra to a family with one child in full-time care while a family with three children gains up to $11.36 a week.

Children and Youth Affairs Minister Larry Anthony said the boost for families using approved full-time and part-time child care, including 119,611 in Victoria, would keep payments in line with the cost of living.

The increase comes as the Government and Labor step up their battle to win the family vote.

The Coalition unveiled a $19 billion, five-year family benefits spending boost in last week's budget and pledged an extra $251 million over four years to lift child-care spending to $8.5 billion.

Mr. Anthony said an extra 40,000 child-care places -- in before and after school hours -- and 4000 family day-care places would meet unmet demand and, combined with the latest increase in child-care benefit, it would deliver more help for families.

Labor's child care spokeswoman Jacinta Collins said the budget did not tackle the large waiting lists for long-day care for children aged under five.

She said when Labor released its policy it would create more child-care places than the Government.

The Government and Labor are both offering new mothers $3000.

The Coalition's maternity payment will deliver a tax-free, non-means tested, lump sum for all babies born from July 1. It argues this will help families with the extra immediate costs of having a child.

Labor will not allow a lump sum and will means test its payment, which can be taken over 14 weeks as de facto paid maternity leave or fortnightly.

Mr. Anthony said under the changes to child-care benefit rates, families earning up to $32,485 a year (previously $31,755) could claim the maximum rate of child-care benefit. Those earning more would receive a reduced rate.

Most parents will receive the money as reduced fees as it is paid directly to the child-care provider. Some parents will be able to make a claim at the Family Assistance Office.

Mr. Anthony said the Government had increased the child-care benefit by 15 per cent since it introduced the payment in 2000.

"There are around 763,000 children currently using Australian Government funded child-care services across Australia," he said.

"The number of families using child care continues to grow due to the generous assistance provided through child-care benefit payment."

- reprinted from the Age