WA Labor Leader Mark McGowan and South West MLC Adele Farina sit with children and staff at Eaton’s Online Childcare Centre.THE director of an Eaton childcare centre says she could struggle to keep or hire staff when a fee waiver on the state’s childcare Diploma course is lifted next year.
Kathy McKrill, who runs Online Childcare Centre, told media last week that an end to TAFE fee subsidies on a qualification required by half her staff was a “slap in the face.”
Currently childcare workers do not need to pay anything to study a Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care.
But South West MLC Adele Farina said the pulling of federal funding will mean after January 1 workers would have to foot the bill themselves or take out a loan.
Department of training and workforce development director general Dr Ruth Shean said the department would monitor enrolments across all courses next year for any “unintended consequences.”
Dr Shean said course fees for diploma and advanced diploma courses would not exceed $7700 per course per year.
Ms McKrill said she was not in a position to subsidise her staff’s training.
“We are a small business, we employ maybe twelve to fourteen staff and that’s alot of money for us to find,” she said.
Changes to Australia’s childcare system requi-red the centre to have half of childcare workers on shift with the qualification.
“We’ve gone from needing three [staff] with diplomas to operate our service to now needing double that plus an early childhood teacher,” she said.
WA Labor Leader Mark McGowan visited the centre with Ms Farina on Friday.
Mr McGowan said the introduction of fees could reduce the number of childcare places as centres struggled to maintain and hire staff.
“One of the great things about Australia in the last 40 years is the growth of women in the workforce,” Mr Mcgo- wan said.
“It has made our country successful, it has made our staff successful.
“By making childcare less available you reduce the availability of the opportunity for women in particular to work and that’s a bad thing for our state, our economy and families generally.”
A childcare worker in Bunbury with a Diploma can earn an average of $40,000 to $45,000 per year.
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