It showed 75 Victorian childcare centres had their federal funding cancelled or suspended since July 2016 – representing more than 40 per cent of the 179 centres pinged across Australia.
WE'RE BACKING FAMILIES: PM
The Turnbull government is celebrating the passage of its childcare changes through the Senate, saying it's a win for parents who want to get back into the workforce. Courtesy ABC News 24.
The loss of Commonwealth subsidies does not automatically shut down a childcare centre – that power lies with state governments – but it makes it very difficult for the facility to operate.
For the first time, the federal government has named and shamed offenders on a public register, released overnight, which has also highlighted Melbourne's hot spots for non-compliance.
The new public register names and shames 179 childcare operators pinged by the federal government.
Several centres in Dandenong were stripped of funding, as well as a number in Werribee, Tarneit and Point Cook on the south-west fringe, Footscray, Sunshine and the Craigieburn area.
The most common form of bad behaviour was fraud, whereby day care providers inflate their numbers and claim taxpayers' money for looking after non-existent children or their own kids.
Education Minister Simon Birmingham said the register was published as a warning to non-compliant childcare centres that they will be "hung out to dry" by the Turnbull government.
"Those who go down the wrong path should be held to account for their actions," he said. "This is about making sure the track record of childcare providers is crystal clear to families."
Although the Victorian government put dozens of childcare operators on notice in a recent crackdown, Victoria continued to be the worst offender in the most recent federal reporting period.
Twenty Melbourne centres had their federal payments cancelled or suspended in the first quarter of this financial year, with four providers subject to immediate suspensions for serious breaches.
Those centres were the Just Like Home Family Day Care in Derrimut, Baraka First FDC in Werribee, Aussom Family Day Care Scheme in Footscray and South Eastern Best FDC in Dandenong.
Immediate suspensions apply if the centre is breaking the law, if there is an imminent threat to children's health and safety, or in "urgent circumstances". None of the centres which lost a government subsidy has had it reinstated.
Senator Birmingham has described the family day care sector as a "hotbed for shonks and rorters", though he noted on Friday that the "overwhelming majority" of providers were legitimate.
Along with the states, Canberra has ramped up monitoring of unscrupulous practices through a dedicated taskforce, saving an estimated $1.8 billion since 2014 through compliance checks.
In a recent report, the national auditor found the extra checks had corrected the "significant weaknesses" in the system and materially reduced the number of overpayments to undeserving operators.
There is big money in childcare subsidies: one empire which came under the microscope in 2016, run by Sydney brothers Mohammad and Ibrahim Omar, had raked in $27 million in public money over four years.
The network was suspended after two other men associated with the operation were charged with fraud, amid suggestions they could have funnelled ill-gotten government subsidies to Islamic State.
One of those men, Hussain Dandachi, was originally sentenced to 10 months' jail after pleading guilty to defrauding the Commonwealth of nearly $110,000. Authorities had reportedly confiscated his passport because they suspected he was trying to reach the Middle East to join IS.
The Compliance Action Register will be updated every three months and is published by the federal Department of Education.
Source:Sunday Morning Herald