Scott Morrison has announced anyone still working across Australia will be given free childcare during the coronavirus pandemic.
“If you have a job in this economy then that is an essential job, in my view, in terms of running of the economy,” Mr Morrison said.
“It is important that all of those parents who have children, that they get access to the childcare and those facilities will be there for them in the many months ahead.”
He said 13,000 childcare centres would be financially supported to remain open during the outbreak after attendance numbers plummeted in recent weeks.
The system will be reviewed after one month, with an extension to be considered after three months. The payments will be paid in lieu of the Child Care (CCS) and Additional Child Care Subsidy payments.
Education Minister Dan Tehan said the sector would be supported to the tune of $1.6 billion.
And while the care will be offered to all working Australians, Mr Tehan said there needed to be a focus on workers who cannot work from home and those whose children are vulnerable.
“There is a clear priority list that we want centres to take into account. The most important of those are those essential workers and the vulnerable children,” he said.
The prime minister said essential workers aren’t simply the frontline medics working tirelessly in hospitals.
“It is not just the doctors or the nurses who are at the hospitals. It is the cleaners at the hospitals as well,” Mr Morrison clarified.
“It is the people driving trucks to get food out to supermarkets and ensure the supplies continue to run.”
He said it would benefit around one million families.
How the childcare relief package will work
Under the plan, the Government will pay 50 per cent of the sector’s fee revenue prior to the effects of COVID-19.
The funding will apply from April 6 and is based on the the number of children who were in care during the fortnight leading into March 2, whether or not they are attending services.
Mr Morrison once again stressed the pandemic would last for at least six months in Australia.
On Thursday the nation’s coronavirus cases surpassed 5000 while the 22nd and 23rd deaths were recorded.
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