Assistant Minister for Education Sussan Ley has hailed the Productivity Commission’s (PC) decision to accept brief online comments in addition to formal submissions for the first-time a success, with over 700 comments lodged to its inquiry into child care and early learning.
Ms Ley said the PC’s decision made it easier for busy parents and child care workers to have their say, with about 90 per cent of online comments coming from these two groups, she said.
She said the online comment section also boosted the total number submissions to over 1100 when combined with the 400-plus formal submissions that were received as well.
Ms Ley also welcomed the PC’s decision to publish the comments on its website this week.
“We tasked this Productivity Commission Inquiry because the current child care system is not delivering enough of the affordable and flexible support modern-day parents need,” Ms Ley said.
“As a result Australia is now engaged in one of the nation’s most important discussions in decades and this initiative has given a voice to those who may not have previously felt they could participate in such a large public Inquiry.
“This is the first time the Productivity Commission has accepted online comments as part of an inquiry and I applaud them for choosing this important national discussion to trial it.”
Ms Ley said the total number of submissions received by the PC was 1144, with 443 formal submissions and 701 brief online comments (no more than 1000 words). The PC has uploaded all of the comments that gave permission to be published at http://www.pc.gov.au/projects/inquiry/child care.
Ms Ley said just like the formal submissions, the comments varied widely, however key themes related to affordability, accessibility, flexibility, quality and workforce participation, including:
“Our fees have risen by 10% in the nine months that we have been in the centre, to almost $100 per day.”
“The paperwork and red tape required at the moment only prevents the children from having quality time with the adults in charge of them in place of their parents.”
“Providing plentiful, affordable childcare would be of enormous benefit to the Australian economy as it would encourage many women to return to work.”
“We need more flexibility in childcare!”
The breakdown included 453 comments from users of child care services; 116 from people who work in the sector; and 71 from people who both work in the sector and are users of services.
Ms Ley said the public would be able to have a further say following the release of the PC’s draft report in July 2014, with the final report to be delivered to the Government in October 2014.