Roundtable to address concerns about Federal Government child care changes.

By Julie Doyle

The roundtable has been organised by the Australian Childcare Alliance.

Child care providers will convene a roundtable at Parliament House in Canberra this morning in a bid to convince the Federal Government to change its plans for the sector.

Key points:
- Roundtable organised by Australian Childcare Alliance
- Its president says changes put vulnerable families at risk
- Education Minister says package is "outstanding" as it is

The Federal Government wants to overhaul child care rebates paid to more than 1 million families who use the system.

As part of the changes, multiple payments would be replaced with one means-tested subsidy.

A tougher activity test for parents would also be introduced before they qualify for any Government support.

Today's roundtable has been organised by the Australian Childcare Alliance.

Its president Gwynn Bridge said child care providers and parents had concerns about the impact of the changes, particularly on vulnerable families.

"We don't want it pushed through in its current form because of some of the major issues there that are going to affect families and children," Ms Bridge said.

"However, we are concerned that if it doesn't go through now, it could be a long time in being implemented and families are doing it tough now."

The Government wants the new system to start in July 2017, but the bill to enact the package is still before the Senate.

Ms Bridge said she was worried the issue would be pushed to the bottom of the agenda.

"Somebody needs to look at the tough position families are finding themselves in through no fault of their own. We need to sort this out, we can't let it limp on."

'We don't want any child left behind'
The country's largest child care provider Goodstart Early Learning will also attend today's meeting.

Goodstart's advocacy manager John Cherry said the Government needed to ensure all children maintained access to early childhood education.


"The whole child care sector wants to put the message to all parties in Canberra that we don't want any child left behind when they reform child care assistance," Mr Cherry said.

"We need to have a package that works, not just for working families, but works for children in terms of their access to early learning particularly the most disadvantaged children in our community."

The Education Minister Simon Birmingham will attend the roundtable.

He said he was happy to listen to the concerns, but appeared reluctant to make any changes.

"Well the Government has outlined comprehensive reforms to child care structures for Australia and they really do re-engineer child care so that it provides the greatest support to those working the hardest and earning the least," Senator Birmingham said.

"It is a support package best tailored to people who need child care assistance the most, while having strong safety nets and support for early learning.

"So whilst I'm happy to listen to all comers, we really have got what I think is an outstanding package."

Senator Birmingham has also ruled out changes to the activity test, which will require both parents to work, study or volunteer for at least eight hours a fortnight before they can access any subsidised care.

"Most Australians think that when it comes to subsidising childcare it is reasonable to expect the person, the parents for whom that subsidy is directed at, are engaged in the workforce, studying or volunteering not just sitting at home," he said.

This post originally appeared on ABC News.

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