2023/24 NSW Government Budget Highlights

The NSW Government has handed down the 2023/24 NSW Budget. Following on from announcements over the past week, the Budget provides more detail on the Government’s plans to improve access to early childhood education and care over the next four years, as well as several policy initiatives in other portfolios that may have an indirect impact on ECEC services and families that use them.

Specific ECEC initiatives

  • $5.0 billion (over 10 years) Childcare Economic Opportunity Fund maintained. Under the previous Government this was known as the Affordable and Accessible Childcare and Economic Participation Fund.
  • $5.7 billion over 10 years Universal Pre-Kindergarten Access maintained.
  • $849 million in new ECEC services
    • $769.3 million for 100 new preschools on public school sites. $29 million allocated in 2023-2024. Previously the Government has stated its intention to have a preschool in every newly built primary school. A number of new schools are slated for funding in this budget, but it is not clear if those schools would have a preschool co-located and if they are included in the 100 preschools announced or are additional. We do know the Government has committed to maintaining NFP community ownership and management of preschools on primary school sites.
    • $20 million for growth of NFP services in high demand areas
  • $1.6 billion for expanded affordable preschool program (fee relief)
    • $64 million over 2 years to provide $500 in fee relief per child, per year for parents of 3-year-olds in long day care preschool programs.$4,220 per year fee relief for parents and carers of 3 to 5-year-olds in community and mobile preschools. The existing core funding to community preschools and mobile preschools will continue through the Start Strong funding program with some modification and changes to the reporting and acquittal requirements. The Start Strong Funding Guidelines for 2023/24 are not yet released.
    • $2,110 fee relief for children aged 4 years or older attending preschool in Long Day Care
  • Developing capability and support to the ECEC workforce
    • $20 million Flexible Initiatives Trial to expand access to early childhood education and care, extended hours and assist parents re-entering the workforce
    • $22 million over 5 years to recruit and retain essential EC workers including professional development and scholarships for tertiary education
    • $6.5 million for the business capability program for leadership, management, and financial capability development
    • Trial of free or low cost ECEC for the children of ECEC teachers and carers
  • $200 million for children who need out of home care to provide permanency services and post-care support directed to NGO service providers and the provision of emergency arrangements. Long term commitment to whole of system reform
  • $17.1 million to Kids Helpline to recruit more counsellors and ensure access to 24/7 services
  • Learn to Swim active Preschooler Voucher provides $50 per child aged between 3 and 6 years not yet enrolled in school to attend swimming lessons

There are other budget announcements that might have impact on the ECEC workforce or the families and communities that ECEC services support.

  • $112m to meet TAFE NSW Funding shortfall. The budget papers do not detail how this additional funding will be applied. CCSA would hope that with the additional funding there may be more opportunities for ECEC workforce to gain a TAFE qualifications
  • Housing initiatives are proposed that go to addressing the current issues with rental housing availability. We know that the available housing in regional, rural and remote areas is a significant barrier to recruitment. The initiatives will either help ECEC workforce directly or may draw families to a geographic area and increase demand for ECEC places
    • Rental Reform package is to undertake sector reforms to make renting a home fairer and more equitable. More information can be found here
    • Shared Equity Home Buyer Helper. Under the Shared Equity program, the NSW Government can contribute up to 40% of the purchase price for a brand-new home or 30% for an existing dwelling. This helps participants secure a mortgage, by reducing the deposit required – potentially down to as little as 2% of the purchase price. More information on the Shared Equity Home Buyer Helper Can be found here
    • Expanded First Home Buyers Assistance Scheme (Stamp duty exemption)
    • $10,000 first Home Owner Grant (<$600,000 newly built dwelling)
    • Private rental assistance for people escaping domestic violence
    • $100 million to deliver infrastructure projects in regional NSW to unlock housing
    • $60 million Support for new build to rent trials in in the South Coast and Northern Rivers
    • $35.3 million to provide critical services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families through Services Our Way including in Coffs Harbour, Clarence Valley, New England, Central West and Illawarra-Shoalhaven. More information can be found here
  • Energy Relief Bill. More than 300,000 eligible businesses using less than 100MWh of electricity per year may receive a one off $650 relief payment. More information about eligibility and how he package will be applied can be found here
  • $131.4 million to Empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islands people. Progressing 28 co-developed Closing the Gap initiative.
  • Improving Gender Equity
    • $39.1 million to prevent domestic, family and sexual violence and support victim safety
    • $13.8 million to improve women’s participation and empowerment in the workforce through a Working Women’s Centre and a Future Women’s Jobs Academy
  • Supporting diversity
    • $15 million to faith organisations to improve security and safety at religious institutions, including places of worship, schools, community centres and building
    • $47.8 million Multicultural Communities Support package
    • $3.9 billion in 2023-24 for cash and in-kind contributions for individual packages and other flexible supports under the NDIS
    • $7.6 million to a range of programs and important initiatives to support the health and wellbeing of veterans and their families.