National Farmers' Federation

NFF joins new coalition to demand equitable childcare for bush families

The National Farmers’ Federation has joined the Access for Every Child Coalition launched today, to ensure families in the bush receive the same access to early childhood education and care as their city counterparts.

Along with more than 50 other organisations, the NFF is calling for the Federal Government to create bespoke options so families can overcome one of the biggest barriers to workforce participation.

NFF Chief Executive Tony Mahar said joining the coalition followed NFF members endorsing an Early Childhood Education and Care policy earlier this month.

“The juggle of raising a family and running a farm business is tricky at the best of times. Add into the equation limited or even no childcare options, and farming families are really left behind,” Mr Mahar said.

“Childcare services in the regions are waning and, in some cases, they are non-existent, at a time when demand is growing and the agricultural sector is crying out for workers.”

While better access to care could boost farm productivity and improve developmental, social and academic outcomes for regional children, Mr Mahar said it was essential to overcome this hurdle for women, who commonly bear the care burden.

“A key plank in the NFF’s vision for Australian agriculture to be a $100 billion industry by 2030 includes a goal to double the number of women in agriculture’s leadership positions.

“We’re proud to have a growing number of women employed in agriculture and women in leadership roles, but we need to support this trajectory through the child rearing years.

“Often when the patter of tiny feet arrives, leadership journeys are put on ice simply by a lack of care options.

“The Federal Government has made a commitment to a universal early education system and we need to hold the government to account, because right now, bush families are being left behind.”

The NFF’s policy calls on the Federal Government to:

  • Work more closely with the states and territories to manage, monitor, regulate, intervene in and shape the early childhood education and care (ECEC) system.
  • Offer a mix of options in partnership with the states and territories to better incentivise service provision in regional, rural and remote areas.
  • Develop a workforce strategy tailored to the regions to attract and retain the early childhood workforce. Initiatives could include wage subsidies, professional development, relocation incentives, and professional support and training.
  • Advance more flexible policy options and market interventions for family day-care, in-home care and other care options in locations where a centre would not be viable.

To view the NFF’s Early Childhood Education and Care policy click here.

To view the Access for Every Child Coalition’s joint statement click here.