Newspaper article The Queensland Times (Ipswich, Australia)

Our Fees among World's Highest; 'Proportion of Household Expenditure on Childcare in Australia Is Highest in World'

Newspaper article The Queensland Times (Ipswich, Australia)

Our Fees among World's Highest; 'Proportion of Household Expenditure on Childcare in Australia Is Highest in World'

Article excerpt

Byline: Lanai Scarr

AUSTRALIAN parents are now being charged some of the highest fees in the world for childcare, raising cost of living pressure.

A special investigation by News Corp Australia spanning several countries has uncovered the harsh financial reality Australian mums and dads face compared to their international counterparts.

In Germany's capital Berlin, where national legislative changes to provide cheaper childcare occurred in 2007, parents pay a maximum of $7.85 a week - or $1.57 a day - for full-time, five-days-a-week childcare. This is regardless of parental income or status.

This compares to Australia where fees are up to $200 a day per child or $1000 per child for a full five-day week. After government subsidies this reduces to $500 a week until the $7613 cap this year exhausts. Next year that cap increases to $10,000.

In the UK fees are also lower than in Australia for parents sending children to full-time childcare.

News Corp Australia met with the OECD in Paris to discuss the situation in Australia and how we can improve. The OECD's head of early childhood education research Eric Charbonnier said the cost to Australian parents was shocking and was holding Australia back from being the world leader in childcare.

He said the proportion of household expenditure on childcare in Australia was the highest in the world.

"If you look at fees and private expenditure Australia is really the country with the highest level of private expenditure," Mr Charbonnier said.

"When you factor in public support to family (government subsidies) the picture is less negative when looking at only private expenditure but Australia is still one of the most expensive countries in the world."

"The cost is particularly difficult for middle class families."

Mr Charbonnier said by all other standards Australia has an exemplary early learning system with a national quality framework, but suggested one way to fix the disparity in cost to parents was to remove funds from other educational areas. …

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