Half of Launceston’s long day care centres could close and prices could rise significantly if proposed changes to the school starting age come into effect.
The concerns were raised by the Tasmanian contingent of the Australian Childcare Alliance, who presented to the City of Launceston council’s strategic planning and policy committee (SPPC) meeting on Monday.
ACA representatives included Glen Dhu Children Services’ Mel Reid and centre owner Lyndon Walsh.
A preliminary survey conducted by ACA in Tasmania has shown at least 576 families across the state would be impacted by the changes, which would result in less centres, staff and places for children under three.
About 150 people in Launceston could also face losing their jobs, if the changes are passed. Prices could also rise by up to $70 a day, which would price out some families in low socio-economic areas and mean less women return to work.
“Launceston has the highest number of high quality long day care centres,” Ms Reid said.
The city has 20 long day care centres and 18 out of those 20 have been rated as exceeding the national quality standards, which is independently regulated.
Presenting to the council, Ms Reid and Mr Walsh lobbied the aldermen to consider rejecting the state government’s proposed changes and writing to their Legislative Council members to attempt to block them.
The changes have passed the lower house but will be debated by the Legislative Council.
Alderman Janie Finlay said the council had some leverage to access the government through the City Deal.
Alderman Hugh McKenzie said it should be something the council should discuss, particularly the significant impact it could have on Launceston.
However, the council’s formal response will be discussed at a workshop at a later date.
Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff said the government wanted to ensure all children had access to quality play-based early learning regardless of circumstance, location or income.
“That’s why we want to provide six-month earlier access to play-based learning across all schools in Tasmania,” he said.
"Changes to the school starting age will not take effect until 2020, giving a long lead-in time to ensure that everyone is well prepared. "