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18 June 2021

Sydney, 18 June 2021 – UNICEF’s Office of Research, Innocenti, has today released a global report reviewing the world’s wealthiest countries based on their national childcare and parental leave policies.

The report, ‘Where Do Rich Countries Stand on Childcare?’ assesses a range of factors including the accessibility, affordability, and quality of childcare for children between birth and school age across high income nations according to data from the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the European Union (EU).

The indicators in the report are assessed using data from 2018 and 2020 with Australia positioned 37 of the 41 countries measured.

The Australian Government has, in the past year, announced the following new initiatives to help address these issues and provide children and caregivers more support:

  • $2 billion over four years to strengthen preschool attendance in the year before school and school readiness.
  • $1.7 billion commitment for Child Care Subsidy (CCS) to increase by 30 per cent for the second child and subsequent children aged five years and under in care, commencing July 2022 and make childcare more affordable for low-income families with two or more children in childcare.
  • Free Childcare during COVID was offered to one million families by providing 13,000 childcare services a half of their fee revenue if they remained open and did not charge families for childcare. Supplementary income could be claimed for 200,000 caregivers under the JobKeeper payment, estimated at $1 billion for the childcare sector.
  • Extended Paid Parental Leave: the provision of increased flexibility in the Government’s paid parental leave scheme - introduced in 2020 - after the policies were comparatively measured.

A spokesperson for UNICEF Australia said: “Early learning for children continues to be a key priority for UNICEF Australia and we know this is shared by Government.

“This report reminds us that there is still much work to be done to ensure equal access to early learning for all Australian children, and to improve statutory support to new mothers and fathers. Over the past years, we have regularly raised these issues with government, and it is clear that they are listening.  

“We have been very encouraged by recent actions that the Government has taken to strengthen our Early Education and Care system and increase its investment in children.

“We know families with young children need a wholistic support system, including paid parental leave and dedicated programs servicing remote areas, including access to early learning for Indigenous children. We must ensure that no child is left behind.”

To read the full report: ‘Where do rich countries stand on childcare’ from UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti, please click here