Childcare services in Australia

The Future of Childcare Services in Australia: ACCC’s Interim Report

On July 5, 2023, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) released its first interim report, investigating childcare services in Australia. This blog post explores the key findings of the report, which shed light on pricing, supply and demand, and the impact of the Child Care Subsidy. Understanding the significance of accessible and affordable childcare is vital for children’s development and parents’ work-life balance. Let’s delve into the ACCC’s findings and examine what they mean for the future of childcare in Australia.

Understanding the Importance of Childcare Services:

Access to high-quality childcare services is crucial for children’s development and parents’ ability to engage in paid work. With an increasing number of families relying on these services, it is essential to ensure affordability, accessibility, and meeting the diverse needs of Australian families.

The ACCC’s Interim Report Findings:

  • Prices:

According to the ACCC’s interim report, fees for long day care (LDC) have steadily increased from 2016-17 to 2021-22, with an average annual growth rate of 2.3%. Notably, while prices rose in metropolitan areas at a similar annual growth rate, non-metropolitan areas experienced significantly higher fee increases.

Additionally, there is substantial price dispersion across different regions due to variations in wages, rent costs, and competition levels. The Child Care Subsidy (CCS) has effectively reduced out-of-pocket costs for most families. However, concerns persist about affordability for families ineligible for CCS or receiving low subsidy levels.

  • Supply and Demand:

The interim report highlights a significant increase in childcare service supply since 2016-17. While some areas have experienced rapid growth in service providers, disparities exist in the availability of places across regions. This imbalance could lead to regional shortages or oversupply, creating challenges for both service providers’ profitability and families’ access to suitable childcare options.

  • Child Care Subsidy’s Initial Impact Examination:

Since its introduction in July 2018, the Child Care Subsidy has successfully reduced out-of-pocket costs for families and increased participation rates in long day care and outside school hours care. However, the report indicates that childcare costs remain burdensome for some families. Affordability and access to services still vary significantly for families with low incomes or living in high-fee areas.

A Glimpse into the Future of Childcare Services in Australia:

Based on the interim report, the ACCC has outlined three potential focus areas for further inquiry:

  • Pricing strategies and fee-setting behaviours: The ACCC aims to investigate service providers’ pricing decisions to identify ways to improve competition and reduce costs, ensuring a more affordable and transparent pricing framework for families.
  • The impact of regulation on supply: Evaluating the effect of different regulations on service providers will help determine if there are regulatory barriers to competition or unnecessary administrative burdens. This examination seeks to facilitate a more efficient and diverse supply of childcare options.
  • Considerations regarding family choices and preferences: Understanding families’ decision-making processes and their awareness of available options can inform initiatives that provide clearer information and better support families in selecting the most suitable childcare services for their needs. This focus on family-centric decision-making aims to enhance accessibility and responsiveness within the childcare sector.

Future Policy Decisions and Recommendations:

The ACCC’s interim report provides a foundation for future policy decisions and recommendations concerning childcare services in Australia. The findings will likely guide government initiatives to address affordability challenges, ensure equitable access to childcare, and enhance service quality. It is expected that the final report will propose measures to achieve a more sustainable, inclusive, and responsive childcare system that meets the evolving needs of Australian families.


The ACCC’s interim report on childcare services provides valuable insights into pricing, supply and demand, and the impact of the Child Care Subsidy in Australia. The report highlights the importance of addressing affordability, accessibility, and quality of childcare services for families. Ongoing inquiry and subsequent policy decisions will shape a future where high-quality, accessible, and affordable childcare services support children’s development and parents’ work-life balance.

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