Announced on Sunday, 8 November 2020 was the NSW Government' $120 million commitment to extend free preschool programmes to 2021 across community and mobile preschools.

banner nsw govt preschools decision not for ldcs

This latest decision repeats the NSW Government's free preschool programme in response to COVID-19 that was to end in Term 4 in 2020. However, this NSW Government's decision significantly contrasts with the early childhood education and care that was fee-free from April 2020 to 12 July 2020 as mandated by the Federal Government in response to COVID-19.

The Australian Childcare Alliance (ACA) NSW understands the NSW Government’s funding will benefit 700 state-funded community preschools and 38 mobile services that provide care to up to 45,000 three to five-year-olds. But ACA NSW is concerned that the NSW Government has again ignored up to 3,202 other NSW-based preschools and up to 150,000 similarly aged children.

Across New South Wales, children enrolled for 600 hours per year in all formats of long daycare services in their year-before-school receive only $469 per child per year through the NSW Government. This is in stark difference to those same cohorts in South Australia, Queensland and Victoria operating under similar state government funding models where they receive between $2,011 to over $3,600 per child per year.

Why is the majority of NSW-children in their preschool year discriminated against by their own NSW State Government, especially compared to other states?

The NSW Government bias against children in long daycare services has persisted since April 2012 despite the NSW Government-commissioned report (page 26) by Professor Deborah Brennan which recommended that the NSW Government’s contribution ought to be about a third of that received by community preschools (which calculates at approximately $1,729 in today’s terms rather than $469 per child per year).

And especially in the context of the Coronavirus pandemic, it also appears ludicrous that the NSW Government would continue to insist that its government subsidy cannot be used to offset labour costs incurred by long daycare services, despite allowing so for community preschools’ employees.

ACA NSW has commenced formal inquiries with the NSW Government about:

  • whether there are measurable differences in the educational and social outcomes of children in community and mobile preschools versus all other centre-based service types;
  • how it measures success in terms of efficiency, effectiveness and prudence of such funding in the public interest; and
  • whether the risks of anti-competitive conditions consequently created as a result of this free preschool funding were considered.

ACA NSW will also seek the assistance of the NSW Productivity Commissioner, the NSW Small Business Commissioner and the NSW Auditor-General in our advocacy for three-to-five-year-old children in long daycare services who also offer comparable preschool programmes.