Australia

Federal government unveils 'triple guarantee' rescue package for Melbourne childcare

A small group of children play at the Robertson Street Kindy Childcare Centre in Helensburgh south of Sydney. Source: AAP

The Morrison government will provide a "triple guarantee" for Victorian childcare, securing places, centres and jobs during Melbourne's harsh virus lockdown.

Childcare places, centres and jobs will be guaranteed during Melbourne's harsh six-week coronavirus lockdown.

Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan unveiled a rescue package on Wednesday before ramped-up measures to shut businesses take effect.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the initiative would secure childcare spots, while ensuring no centres closed or jobs were lost.

"A triple guarantee for parents, the services themselves, as well as for the employees," he told the Seven Network.

The federal government will allow 30 days of extra absences so places aren't lost while children are being kept home.

Mr Tehan said he was confident providers would waive the gap fee for parents.

"For those parents who can't send their children to care, there will be no cost to them. They'll be able to keep their child enrolled," he said.

With the government providing extra payments to providers, Mr Tehan expects all centres' revenue to be on average between 80 and 85 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.

The minister said keeping centres open and maintaining enrolments were crucial.

Early childhood educator Josephine wipes down tables and bench tops with disinfectant at the Robertson Street Kindy Childcare Centre in Helensburgh, NSW
Early childhood educator Josephine wipes down tables and bench tops with disinfectant at the Robertson Street Kindy Childcare Centre in Helensburgh, NSW
AAP

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said only permitted workers with no one home to look after children would be allowed to access child care.

He said he could not give the green light to a quarter of a million children going to and from child care each day.

"It is a massive reduction and I apologise to those families because child care is not there but there is no alternative," he told reporters in Melbourne.

Australia's death toll has risen to 247 after a record 15 deaths - including a man in his 30s - were reported in Victoria on Wednesday.

In another grim record, Victoria also had 725 new cases.

Devastating nursing home outbreaks continue to weigh heavily on the state, with 12 of the latest deaths linked to aged care.

The prime minister is also offering other states and territories to join Victoria in receiving $1500 payments for workers without sick leave.

Unions and Labor have been pushing for a national scheme, stressing the need to prevent outbreaks triggered by workplace transmission.

"That option is there for other states and territories where they believe they need to move to that stage," Mr Morrison said.

Queensland will close to people from NSW and the ACT from 1am on Saturday, despite Canberra having no active cases and not recording a new infection for almost a month.

NSW recorded 12 new cases on Tuesday with all but one case linked to known outbreaks.

Metropolitan Melbourne residents are subject to Stage 4 restrictions and must comply with a curfew between the hours of 8pm and 5am. During the curfew, people in Melbourne can only leave their house for work, and essential health, care or safety reasons.

Between 5am and 8pm, people in Melbourne can leave the home for exercise, to shop for necessary goods and services, for work, for health care, or to care for a sick or elderly relative. The full list of restrictions can be found here.

All Victorians must wear a face covering when they leave home, no matter where they live.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits. If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus.

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