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Increasing childcare fees sparks concern in Shepparton

By Ed McLeish

Shepparton parents could face higher childcare fees soon.

The Department of Education’s September quarter 2019 report showed the average hourly fee across all childcare types was $9.90, reflecting an increase of 4.6 per cent since the September quarter 2018.

Shepparton mother Gillian Kearney said last year before rebate she was paying $107 per day for her three-year-old daughter Lexi.

“It’s probably heading close to the $120 per day mark at the end of June this year,” Mrs Kearney said.

“This year I have had to put Lexi into full-time care due to a change in work arrangements and the thought of having to pay that is pretty scary.

“I am waiting with nerves to see how much more out of pocket I will be.”

Shepparton’s Wyndham Early Learning Centre owner Kathy Beer said her privately-run centre had not made any increases in the past three months.

“The last increase was at the start of last financial year, and it coincides with the amount the government pays per hour so the impact to the parent isn’t as great,” Ms Beer said.

Ms Beer said although her prices had not increased over the new year, she could understand why other businesses had to increase their rates.

“Sometimes because numbers tend to drop over this period, businesses might increase rates to maintain their profits,” she said.

State Member for Shepparton Suzanna Sheed said while childcare was largely a federal issue, she was “very concerned” by the reported rise of up to 35 per cent in the cost of childcare since 2013.

“How can women be expected to return to work when facing such onerous costs? This issue can negatively impact their careers, their superannuation, even their self-esteem,” she said.

“Without affordable childcare we will never reach equality in our workplaces.

“The Federal Government must do more to rein in this unsustainable growth in childcare fees.”

Federal Member for Nicholls Damian Drum said he understood affordable childcare is important for families.

“We have a rebate subsidy where families are paid up to $11.98 per hour for their child to be looked after in child care, and the biggest problem we have is that some providers are wanting to charge over and above that amount,” Mr Drum said.

“The Federal Government understands how important affordable child care is to families, and we are providing a record amount of over $8 billion in subsidies this financial year, meaning almost three-quarters of Australian families are paying less than $5 per child per hour in out-of-pocket costs.

“Although we would love child care centres to be charging our families less, we know this is largely a private sector industry, and that around one in eight daycare centres charge an average hourly fee higher than the government’s cap of $11.98.”

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