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Australian Government Publishes List of Errant Childcare Providers

Unscrupulous childcare providers have been named on a public list by the federal government for the first time, in an effort to prevent the system being exploited.

The list of childcare providers subject to disciplinary action for offences such as providing false documentation, fraud, and charging illegal fees was published on Saturday morning.

The register shows there were 141 sanctions – including the loss of federal government subsidies – and immediate cancellations were placed on childcare providers in 2016-17, the majority of which were imposed on family day care services.

The education and training minister, Simon Birmingham, said the list was intended as “a warning to providers that if you’re non-compliant and do the wrong thing you will be hung out to dry”.

“Parents should be able to access the information necessary to make informed choices when deciding on a childcare service and have confidence that they are entrusting the care of their children to a compliant and reputable provider,” he said.

The register, which will be updated every three months, shows there were 59 operators in New South Wales and 75 in Victoria who had their federal funding cancelled or suspended.

The federal, state and territory governments share responsibility for childcare funding and regulations. The federal government conducted 3800 compliance checks in 2016-17.

On Friday, the Victorian government said it had taken disciplinary action against more than 60 inadequate childcare providers over the past year following more than 1,200 investigations into long day care, family day care, outside school hours care and kindergarten services in 2017. Four Victorian providers had their registration cancelled.

A report from the Australian National Audit Office, published in December, identified significant weaknesses in childcare compliance, including incorrect payments being made by the Department of Education to childcare service providers.

The audit found that the complex legislation and administration of childcare benefits, and the fact that payments were reliant on self-assessed information provided by childcare service providers and claimants, were risk factors to the system being abused. However, the introduction of new legislation and compliance measures had removed much of this risk, the audit found.

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