Novel Coronavirus: Latest government announcements as of 23 March 2020

The Australian Childcare Alliance (ACA) NSW provides the following financial and business continuity information to help ACA NSW members understand what the Federal and NSW Governments have just announced as of 23 March 2020:

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At the time of writing, both the Federal Government and the NSW Government continues to support the continuing and on-going operation of early childhood education and care (ECEC) services. Moreover, both have continued to support schools remaining open and running.

The Morrison Federal Government has today (23 March 2020) announced the following that are relevant for ECEC services:

  1. the Federal Minister for Education has now increased the number of days that a family can continue to claim the Child Care Subsidy in cases where a child is absent from childcare for more than the currently allowable 42 days to 62 days if absent in relation to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19);
  2. the Federal Minister for Education can now give families access to additional absences without limit and without the need for evidence in relation to COVID-19;
  3. the Federal Minister for Education can now waive the current obligations of child care services to require a family to pay gap fees if the service is forced to close and not where the service closes voluntarily;
  4. ECEC services will continue to be paid the Child Care Subsidy, which can be up to 85% of the daily fee, if they are directed to temporarily close because of COVID-19 and not where the service closes voluntarily;
  5. ECEC services as either small businesses or not-for-profit may receive a tax-free, cash payment of between $20,000 and $100,000; and
  6. ECEC services can apply to the Federal Government for guaranteed unsecured loans of up to $250,000 per legal entity.

The above is in addition to other announcements prior to 23 March 2020: 

  1. the existing Federal Government's Community Child Care Fund under its Special Circumstances Grant Opportunity Guidelines that is also applicable for pandemics for ECEC services including when services are closed in relation to COVID-19, and where service viability is affected by an unforeseen factor outside the control;
  2. ECEC services as small businesses or not-for-profit and with a turnover under $50 million will receive a tax-free cash payment of up to $100,000, with a minimum payment of $20,000 for eligible companies;
  3. the Instant Asset Tax Write-Off threshold has been lifted to $150,000 per financial year for businesses with turnover under $500m/year;
  4. 50% wage subsidies (and up to $21,000 per year) for trainees and apprentices;

For individuals (ie families, staff including casuals), the Morrison Federal Government has announced the following:

  1. a one-off $750 per individual via Carer's Allowance and/or Family Tax Benefit for those eligible;
  2. for casuals earning less than $1,075 per fortnight, Newstart Sickness Allowance (with wait time waived) is available as follows:
    1. $559/fortnight for singles (plus a "coronavirus supplement" of $550 a fortnight for the next six months);
    2. $605.70/fortnight for singles with children (plus a "coronavirus supplement" of $550 a fortnight for the next six months);
    3. $504.70/fortnight each for partners (plus a "coronavirus supplement" of $550 a fortnight for the next six months);
  3. those whose income or hours have been reduced by 20% or more as a result of COVID-19 will also be able to access to up to $10,000 of their superannuation tax-free, and withdrawals will not affect Centrelink or veterans' payments; and
  4. there will also be a temporary 50% reduction in superannuation minimum drawdown requirements for account-based pensions in 2019-20 and 2020-21.

The NSW Government and the NSW Department of Education thus far have provided the following that are relevant for ECEC services:

  1. $450 million for the waiver of payroll tax for businesses with payrolls of up to $10 million for three months (the remaining quarter of FY2019/2020). This means these businesses will save a quarter of their annual payroll tax bill in FY2019/2020;
  2. $56 million to bring forward the next round of payroll tax cuts by raising the threshold limit to $1 million in FY2020/2021;
  3. in situations where staff members are required to self-isolate you can apply to the Regulatory Authority for waivers for qualifications and/or ratios. Fees for waivers relating to COVID-19 will be waived and applications will be expedited to minimise disruptions to service provision. You can apply for waivers through NQA ITS. For assistance contact our information and enquiries team on 1800 619 113;
  4. upcoming Assessments & Ratings could be rescheduled if services were impacted by COVID-19; and
  5. Can subscribe NSW Department of Education’s alerts/updates by texting "subscribe" to 0429 918 924.

In addition to the information already available via ACA NSW's website (eg ACA NSW's Novel Coronavirus Watch and the Novel Coronavirus: (Virtually) Everything you need to know webinars), members can contact the ACA NSW office on 1300 556 330 or to further discuss the above or:

  • how your service will need to comply with industrial relations laws if/when the consider redundancies of staff due to a downturn of your service;
  • the applicability and requirements of Stand Down provisions in the Fair Work Act should your service be instructed to temporarily close.

ACA NSW will provide members with further updates as new information emerges.