The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has exposed and exacerbated weaknesses within the early childhood education and care (ECEC) system that disproportionally impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and their families.
- SNAICC recommends a two-stage transition or recovery phase that makes available at least 30 hours of free child care per week for all children until June 2021.
- The submission also calls for an end to the Activity Test on a permanent basis, and reform measures that includes introduce an alternative community-focused funding program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ECEC services that recognises their unique role to provide cultural integrated early childhood development supports to children, families and communities.
- A user-pays, individual child focused funding model is an ineffective means to address the broad family, community, cultural and social factors that inhibit the early childhood development of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. The current Child Care Package fails to understand and recognise that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander early childhood education and care (ECEC) services have a different purpose to other services.
As Australia moves into easing restrictions, SNAICC is concerned with how vulnerable families will be experiencing greater stress and economic hardship in the COVID-19 recovery period. A fast return to ‘business as usual’ would be extremely detrimental – the design and readiness of the ECEC system to meet the needs of vulnerable families has never been more important.