Sussan Ley: 'I'll be listening' to childcare concerns

A NEW advisory council will give voice to experts in the childcare and early learning sectors.

Assistant Minister for Education and Member for Farrer Sussan Ley announced the group, which she will co-chair.

The 11-member council will report back to Ms Ley.

“It’s really important for me to hear from people who are working in childcare, either in the sector as educators, as non-profit organisation, as providers, at the grassroots,” she said.

“We need to make sure childcare policy is of use to everybody.

“That’s what I was very keen to put together this group.

“The people I’ve chosen to advise me are people I want to listen to.

“It’s about hearing the voices of the sector.”

Ms Ley said it would be “a two-way conversation”.

“It’s important they represent all of the different sectors; childcare is not just one homogenous group,” she said.

The Productivity Commission last week recommended the government redirect funds from Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s Paid Parental Leave Scheme into the childcare system.

Ms Ley again rejected the idea yesterday.

“They are two separate policies and are quite distinct,” she said.

“The work in building a better childcare system is quite separate to the leave policy and the funding attached to that.”

Shadow Minister for Education and Early Childhood Kate Ellis told the ABC there was an “army of critics” to the scheme.

“Everybody else can see this policy is a dud, and it’s time Mr Abbott admits it,” she said.

Dr Jeff Harmer will co-chair the advisory council.