The Guardian • Issue #1983

Unsafe and non-compliant: profits above safety in early learning

United Workers’ Union Statement

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #1983

[…][T]he United Workers Union (UWU) has released a report outlining the failure of for-profit childcare providers to keep Australian children safe.

The report draws from previously unseen data obtained through freedom of information requests all over Australia. This data reveals what many in the sector have believed for a long time: that for-profit providers deliver poorer safety and lower quality early learning compared to the not-for-profit sector.

The report Unsafe and non-compliant: Profits above safety in Australia’s early learning sector found:

Non-compliance, which represents breaches of a range of minimum safety standards, is far more common among for-profit providers than any other type of service. From just over 12,000 enforcement actions taken nationally against early education providers since 2015, an overwhelming seventy-four per cent involved for-profit centres, despite the for-profit segment making up only half of the sector.

For-profits are also the worst-performing type of service when it comes to ensuring quality education and care for Australian children. For-profit providers have the highest number of centres that don’t meet the national standard, with more than one in six (over 1200) centres failing to meet the National Quality Standard.

For-profit long day care centres are twice as likely to be rated as not meeting the national quality standards than not-for-profit centres.

The three biggest for-profit [Long Day Care] providers in the country are G8, Affinity, and Busy Bees. The poorer quality ratings of these three players epitomise the crisis in the sector. Collectively they had seven times the number of centres rated “Working towards [national quality standard]”, by percentage, when compared with the three largest not-for-profit providers Goodstart, C&K and KU.

Information about a centre’s track record on safety, compliance issues and enforcement actions is almost impossible for parents and the public to find.

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