The Productivity Commission has called for simpler childcare subsidies, changes to the activity test and increased access to early childhood education for children from all backgrounds. Their latest report recommends altering the childcare subsidy to allow all families to access up to three days of subsidised care a week, regardless of how many hours they work; and for families with an annual income of $80,000 or less to become eligible for a 100% subsidy, up from the current 90%.
The Commission called on government to monitor variations in fees and investigate costs and profits across the sector every three years. Australian families pay up to twice OECD average childcare fees.
They also recommended measures to expand the workforce and a national early childhood education and care commission. To address the childcare worker shortage, they recommended removing barriers to educators improving their skills, giving incentives to universities who trial new approaches to teacher education and better mentoring.
The report is out for consultation [deadline 14 February 2024] with a final report to the government due in June 2024.