OPINION – Nanny Pilot Programme – Give me a break!
What is the Nanny Pilot Programme?
The programme is a 2-year trial partially subsidised by the Australian Federal Government. This programme assists families with child care in their own home provided by a nanny. It has been put in place to assist families who have multiple children, live in an area where they cannot access child care or hours of work are outside approved and subsidised child care services.
How do parents participate?
- families must earn a combined annual household income of less than $250,000
- families must have at least one parent/guardian who is an Australian citizen or permanent resident
- children who receive the care must be dependants under the age of 13 or in their last year of primary school, or 13 years or older with additional support needs or a disability.
- to be eligible for the subsidy, both parents/guardians (or in the case of a sole parent family, the sole parent) must be engaged in work, training or study for a minimum of eight hours per fortnight, unless they are exempt.
- children receiving a subsidy under the pilot programme must have received all vaccines required for their age or be on a catch-up schedule as per the National Immunisation Program.
The programme had a 4-week application period for parents ending in October 2015. Families who were trying to plan their work and child care needs were required to apply for the programme up to 4 months in advance and then be prioritized based on their specific circumstances.
Families who wanted to apply for the pilot are not able to access other programmes such as In Home Care and other allowances such as J.E.T allowance whilst utilizing the programme. This meant some parents dropped out prior to the commencement of the programme.
The programme was launched quietly with a soft launch where the child care community was asked to promote the programme to families. There were also a few news media pieces released at the same time. Some families are only just starting to learn of the programme but unfortunately unless the Department of Education re-opens applications to families those families will still have unmet child care needs for the next two years while the pilot runs.
The Department of Education notified successful service providers on December 23rd 2015 and then closed down over the Christmas holiday period until returning to respond to questions from providers and families around the 8th of January 2016.
Providers have had to establish the programme in a very short period of time with:
- Intake of successful parent applicant as advised by The Department of Education
- Advise successful families of pricing and structure of the programme based on families requirements and subsidy rate.
- Assess the family home
- Initialise an agreement to provide services
- Recruitment and placement of the nanny
- Manage payroll, super, insurance, tax and leave for the nanny
- Manage the subsidy and Government compliance and reporting
- Roster and support the nanny and family during the placement
We have now reached the beginning of February 2016 and some providers have only just commenced services or will be commencing soon.
Some parents have voiced frustration and confusion about the costs of engaging a legally employed nanny. Typically, providers are charging between $25-35 per hour for a nanny in the Nanny Pilot Programme. When the minimum wage in Australia is $21.67 per hour and you consider that most families are going to want an experienced, trained nanny caring for their children that is employed legally. (Workers Compensation and Public Liability Insurance, Superannuation, tax, leave, WH&S, support and Government compliance) Then the rate of $30 per hour is understandable. Consideration also needs to be given to the nanny in relation to minimum shift times. 30 minute shifts would not be acceptable to any other Australian worker, so why would we expect a nanny to be ok with this?
With the subsidy being so low in comparison to other types of care (In Home Care $10 per hour comparable to the Nanny Pilot Programme as it is a very similar programme, Family Day Care $10.70 per hour and Long Day Care $11.55 per hour per child) it can make it very difficult for families hoping for flexible affordable child care.
The best way to utilise the Nanny Pilot Programme is:
- families with 2 or more children to utilise the programme. The subsidy is per child per hour. When multiple child families utilise the programme they will get the greatest benefit.
- sharing a nanny. This could be difficult for shift working families but may work for others. Nanny Pilot Programme parents could share a nanny with a non-pilot family and save on costs or the service provider may be able to assist with matching. Share nanny situations can be tricky and need to be managed well from the onset to avoid difficulties with trying to match parenting philosophies, illness of children and which residence to use.
Suggestions that might help the programme are:
- Consider both the employed and self-employed model for nannies
- Consider collaborating with quality Registered Training Organisations such as TAFE to offer an accredited Nanny Certification.
- Look at the on costs such as payroll tax at 4.5% and if anything can be done that to assist service providers so those costs are not then further added onto families.
- Reduce the costs of CCMS programs that are required in Government subsidised programmes.
- Open up the pilot for further family applications with clear communication and scope around which families would get the best use out of the programme.
- Work with employers who require shift workers to encourage flexible work places and formalised and transparent rostering systems.
When you compare the Nanny Pilot to Long Day Care in city suburbs, a centre may charge $80 per day per child or more. This starts to really add up when you have 2 or more children and is comparable to a nanny. Educators working in centre based care are typically earning between $25-30 per hour caring for up to 4 children at a time. Parents may not be aware of the cost comparison and this is where confusion has arisen around the reality of costs of engaging a legally employed nanny.
The Nanny Pilot Programme is a wonderful opportunity for families to access this type of care and also assists with offering work towards higher standards and formalization of a previously unregulated informal nanny sector.
The good news is its early days 4 weeks into a 2-year trial. Hopefully we will see some valuable discussion during the trial around ways to make the programme successful in future and what should be changed or kept in order to do so.
We will be working with the nanny sector to support them and have also offered the Department of Education our support as the national peak body representing the Australian nanny industry.
Australian Nanny Association