The Federal Government wants to introduce new compliance measures to crackdown on child care service fraud and abuses.
Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham said the Turnbull Government will this week introduce strengthened compliance and integrity measures in a “win-win” to protect both children and taxpayers.
Minister Birmingham said the Turnbull Government would bring forward powers for the compulsory reporting of specified action, including police action, against staff members as well as ensuring subsidy claims are not being made for care provided by parents, siblings or in the case of Family Day Care in a child’s home or that is solely transport.
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“This is a win-win for families and taxpayers,” Minister Birmingham said.
“This tough stance is necessary as families rightly expect that not only do child care staff have rigorous checks and balances but that their taxpayer dollars are directed to those operators doing the right thing and delivering high quality, flexible and affordable child care to families, not to ‘shonky’ providers offering sub-standard or illusionary services.
“If a staff member or operator is charged or convicted of a serious crime then the Government should know and Australian families would expect us to come down very hard on any service that protects that individual and suspend or cancel any payments they are receiving should there be any concerns regarding the protection of children and of scarce taxpayer dollars.
“This week we will explicitly spell out that Family Day Care must not be provided in a child’s home, a residence where their parent is present or even in the back of the car. Additional measures will stipulate that taxpayer dollars will also not be paid to Family Day Care or In Home Care being provided by children’s parents, by one of their siblings or if there is no proof of a family being charged a commercial rate.
“These new measures will ensure there are much tighter controls on who cares for our children – it is not good enough that existing rules have been able to be ‘worked around’ and these measures will put a stop to it in the interests of child safety and the protection of taxpayers.”
Minister Birmingham said these new integrity measures would save $27 million a year and comes on the back of new figures that show in the past financial year the Turnbull Government’s compliance crackdown had prevented $421 million – or more than $8 million a week – being paid to dodgy child care providers.
“The Turnbull Government has taken strong and decisive action against these shonks, including correcting a child swapping loophole that allowed family day care service educators to receive a child care payment for their own children while claiming to be looking after other peoples’ children,” Minister Birmingham said.
“Acting on these integrity measures, our compliance cops have ensured that $421 million did not go out the door to subsidise child swapping practices, to people claiming to care for their neighbour’s children, while their neighbour claims to care for their child. Our new measures, saving a further $27 million, are a logical extension to the protections we put in place last year.
“We want to ensure every taxpayer dollar spent on child care supports families to genuinely balance their work obligations and children to access early learning, rather than being rorted by those more interested in lining their own pockets.
“Our priority is to provide assistance that helps families and that is why the Turnbull Government’s child care reforms include more than $3 billion in additional funding to give nearly one million families more affordable, accessible and fairer child care. We have introduced legislation to implement these reforms, which will come into place as soon as possible following support for the savings measures needed to pay for them.”
Minister Birmingham said he had written to state and territory Ministers urging them to do more to ensure child care centres are compliant and these latest measures add another “check and balance” to protect Australian families and taxpayers.
“Perpetrators of fraud are on notice: you will be caught and there are severe consequences, including the possibility of jail time,” Minister Birmingham said.
Minister Birmingham said these compliance measures were in addition to unprecedented compliance powers included in the Turnbull Government’s child care package currently before the parliament.