The United Services Union has commended the NSW Government for securing the future of council-run childcare services with an $82 million funding boost, saying the move has provided certainty for parents and staff during the current health crisis.
Local government is the largest provider of childcare services in NSW, but the exclusion of councils from the Federal Government’s $1,500 per fortnight JobKeeper payment threatened to cause the closure of hundreds of centres due to a major funding shortfall.
The NSW Government’s funding package for local councils will ensure these centres can remain open to provide care for the children of essential workers during the coronavirus pandemic.
The USU, which represents local government employees in NSW, commended Local Government Minister Shelley Hancock for genuinely listening to the concerns of the sector and providing urgent funding to keep centres operating.
“When the Federal Government announced their childcare package, it quickly became clear that the decision to exclude local government from the JobKeeper component left a massive budget hole that would force hundreds of childcare centres to close their doors,” USU General Secretary Graeme Kelly OAM said.
“The Minister for Local Government listened to those concerns, met with the industry unions and Local Government Association NSW, and took immediate action to fund this shortfall, ensuring council-run facilities will receive the same level of support as private providers.
“The ongoing provision of safe, high-quality childcare by local government is vitally important, allowing families with young children to keep our hospitals, schools, supermarkets, and supply chains operating during this crisis.
“As the largest provider of childcare services in NSW, councils are playing a vital role in supporting local communities through the current health crisis.”
But Mr Kelly warned that other essential services provided by local government remained at risk, highlighting the need for the Federal Government to provide a stimulus package to the sector.
“While the future of childcare has been secured, many other essential services provided by councils remain at risk in the current crisis, which is why the Federal Government needs to urgently develop a stimulus package for local government,” he said.
“This should include a review of the decision to leave councils out of the JobKeeper arrangements, along with financial assistance to enable councils to support their communities by preserving jobs.
“These steps should be combined with a direction to local councils to retain all current full-time, part time and casual employees, with training and redeployment allowing them to provide essential community services during the current pandemic.”
Further information: Tim Vollmer — 0404 273 313