Last week, on my second visit to Norfolk Island, my final for this year, I met with the Banyan Park Playcentre management committee to discuss the challenges they are facing on the road to a regulated facility, accredited educators and also, most importantly, child-care rebates.
Unlike on the mainland, families on Norfolk Island are paying full fees for child care, without any rebate. This is having a significant impact on the productivity of the island, particularly for women. Women are not returning to work because they can't afford child care. The cost is too prohibitive. Thanks to the tireless efforts of the fearless women on the management committee, the centre has secured $900,000 from the Building Better Regions Fund program, for upgrades to the facility. But that is going to take around 12 months, and the centre needs action on two fronts, right now. The New South Wales government needs to step up, take responsibility, and introduce the necessary framework to allow the Norfolk Island community to take the next steps on the road to the child-care rebate. That is, getting the facility regulated, and that needs to happen yesterday. The Turnbull Government also needs to legislate for Norfolk Island to be included in the relevant framework so it can receive the child-care rebate, and that needs to happen before March next year. Ideally, it should have happened yesterday. If we are serious about equity for Norfolk Island.