The resilience of services is again being tested. Our sincere thoughts are with all of those members now experiencing flooding or still recovering from earlier floods. At a time when we would be hoping to focus on end of year celebrations many of you are faced with massive clean ups and disruption, and managing the impact of these natural disasters. We have been taking many calls from our members; offering support, talking through processes and just being that listening ear on the end of the phone. We also continue to advocate for further on-the-ground support; whether that be access to counselling services for staff and families, support with grants or looking at relocation solutions for services. We will continue to keep you updated as approvals and more information comes through from the Department.
Our advocacy has been critical as we move through many announcements, policy positions and proposals by both state and federal government. The announcement of Universal Pre-Kindergarten (UPK) this week has seen the first locations identified for the pilot program. It is exciting to see government moving ahead with their commitment and working towards better outcomes for children. We fully endorse this initiative and are working very hard in the background to support it. I am on a UPK reference working group and have been putting forward many suggestions, while also raising concerns about the program timing, pilot support and what can be achieved in the short time frames. I have talked with many members about the excitement and uncertainty that sits around the UPK design, implementation and pilot program. I believe there are solutions and various options to be considered and I look forward to conveying your ideas as we continue to work with the NSW Department of Education.
The new Start Strong Funding guidelines certainly have created another big focus for our members. We have been inundated with calls and have supported hundreds of our members to work through what the basics looks like, what are the priorities, and to support better understanding of the guidelines and their implementation and what this means for services.
We have also taken up a strong position on the potential impact for some children where access to five days of education is essential. These children and services are now disadvantaged due to the multiple user clause. We are aware of specific cases where services may now be shutting their doors on some days of the week, and where children from disadvantaged and vulnerable situations will be charged a fee and not be able to attend the extra days. This is a very sensitive area of the guidelines and we are working very carefully to understand the impact, while recognising that there will also be a benefit to other services.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is preparing to work with the sector on the inquiry into childcare costs and price. An interim report is expected by 30 June 2023 and a final report by December 2023. This may seem a long way off, but the process allows for an opportunity to inform and provide important information to influence decision making into the future. We will share more information as it is released and engagement opportunities as they arise.
Lastly, I will be attending another Workforce Summit in Canberra next week to hear more about the possibility of multiple employer bargaining and improving conditions and wages across the sector. I will keep you updated as more information is approved for release after the summit. The latest communication from the last meeting can be found here.
For now, take care of yourself and stay safe, we are here to take your calls and provide support as needed. You are all doing a great job under very complex circumstances.