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Australian Childcare for Expats

So you are moving to the land of Oz where slang and colloquialisms reign supreme. You might be forgiven for thinking English is a second language for most Australians and then just to confuse you we have interchangeable childcare terms. Understandably you may seem a little confused about the systems. This fact sheet aims to help you understand the childcare system in Australia and translate some of the terms you are familiar with, as well as providing some hints and tips on baby resources and baby infrastructure (that’s what I call cots, kids furniture, toys etc)

An overview

When we talk about childcare services we are generally talk about services principally for children under the age of 12. The main focuses of these services are in the age group of 0-Prep age (Children who turn 5 years old in the year they enroll). The childcare we refer to at school age is termed ‘Out of School Hours Care’ (OSHC) and covers before and after school care. Childcare centers and some schools in Sydney and Melbourne have long waiting lists. Just like the locals, you need to be organised to get your children’s name down, have a plan ‘b’ or interim plan. There are relocation services you can use to help you gain local knowledge.

Term year begins in January for Kindy.

Table of Australian Childcare Ages in comparison to UK and Ireland

Childcare in Australia

Just recently the government established a National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care that applies to most long day care, family day care, preschool and kindergarten, and outside schools hours care services. The Framework is a national approach to the regulation and quality assessment of early childhood education and care services. This is currently being implemented and will introduce national regulations and quality assessments, a national quality rating system and a national body to oversee and implement the changes with each state and territory. The most popular form of childcare in Australia is long daycare and care by relatives followed by family daycare. The government benefits support parents in their use of several different types of care if you have the appropriate citizenship or permanent residency status or meet the other requirements which you can check out at: Child Care Benefit

Here is the range of options for childcare in the 0-4 age group

– Stay at home mum/dad
– ‘Grandcare’- Grandparent, relative or friend caring for your child
– Long Daycare
– Nannies/Au pairs
– Limited hours/Occasional Care
– In home care (special eligibility criteria apply)
– Adjunt care
– Stand-alone care
– Kindergarten program (Kindy)

I have included this as some long daycare centres have a kindy program incorporated (they have to apply to be an approved provider) and if you are happy with your centre, you may not realise you don’t have to look externally for a kindy. Children can access a kindy program in a long daycare or family daycare setting earlier than in a stand alone kindy due to the way funding is distributed to different services. Stand-alone kindergarten’s are only able to deliver the program to children who turn 4 by the June they enrol. Kindergarten’s have historically been stand-alone, not for profit/community run institutions, which run a reduced hours program by degree-qualified Early Childhood staff. Kindy is not ccompulsory however, it is a government accredited education program run at least 15 hours per week, 40 weeks per year to give them a great start.
See these categories in detail in our Daycare Defined Fact Sheet http://daycaredecisions.com.au/10-questions/


I’ve included this here as it’s not actually a form of care as a parent/guardian is always present but it can be a great way for you and your child to make friends in the community. It is generally run once a week and parents bring their children for a few hours to a meeting place such as a church hall or community centre to do a series of activities such as craft, play, songs and stories. The cost is pretty minimal. There is an annual fee of $40 to Playgroup and approximately $5 per session. Find out your local Playgroup http://www.playgroupaustralia.com.au/

Other activities

In every state there are a range of activities for a range of prices you can access. For community-based organizations check out PCYC (Police, Citizens Youth Club, which have a range of sites across Australia and conduct programs from baby move programs through to Judo. Also check out your local community centres if there is one in your area. The best way to find out about these activities is to link with local Mums and Dads and pick up a copy of a kids newspaper such as Child magazine www.webchild.com.au or link to a kids ‘to do’ website in your state. See the resources at the end of this fact sheet.


The Australia school years start in January and runs to December. School holidays differ slightly from state to state and from state to public schools so check with your state government education department to get a rough idea. In Australia private schools are independent fee-based schools, the majority of which are faith based. You will probably know these as ‘public schools’). But public schools in Australia are those run by each state education system. Public schools are free. There is a resource called http://www.myschool.edu.au/ which, is a government initiate to rate schools. Check it out but make sure you also link in with your expat networks and find out the local information. Statistics only tell you one side of the story.

5yrs Prep, Like Kindy is also not compulsory but it is a great way to introduce your child to school life. Prep is available at schools offering primary education. It is the first year in the Early Phase of Learning, which includes Prep to Year 3 so you might as well get them off to a good start. Children need to be five by 30 June in the year they enrol in Prep.

6yrs Grade 1 Children must be enrolled in school in the year they will turn six by 30 June. This is compulsory, so make sure you get your enrollments in early.

Out of School Hours Care
OSHC does what it says on the tin. It is a program available to school age children before and after school to enable parents the flexibility of an earlier drop off and earlier pick-up. It is located at the school and can be run by externally contracted individuals or the whole program can be contracted to a company/small business.

Tips for buying Baby stuff, Kids Toys and Furniture on a Budget

Garage Sales
These are like car boot sales but at people’s houses and, you guessed it, in their garage. You can find ads about these on Gumtree or you can just look around locally for signs up in your area.

Council Tip Shops
Many council’s have a great way of recycling by collecting unwanted household goods. These facilities are often run by charities and you will be able to pick up anything from a pair of skis to kids bicycles, toys and change tables. Here is the link to Brisbane City Council’s Tip Shop: http://www.brisbane.qld.gov.au/environment-waste/rubbish-tips-and-bins/rubbish-tips/brisbane-tip-shop/

Charity Shops
Charity shops can often be known locally as the Vinnie bin (St Vincent de Paul). Lifeline, St Vincent de Paul and some of the big ones and they often have Superstores with everything from curtains to beds and everything in-between.

Kids Markets
There are heaps of kids markets all over Australia, some are chic markets with unique bespoke items but the ones I’m talking about are the ones you can pick up reasonable items from clothes to cradles. (The Brisbane ones are below. I’d love to find out about what’s beyond the border so please let me know if you have any hints for other states or regions and I would be happy to include them)

Zero2Five Markets www.zero2five.com.au/
Brisbane Multiple Birth Association Market www.bmbawestside.com.au
Baby and Kids Markets

Drive by
In Australia there is a rather ingenious custom of putting out things you don’t want or need on the kerb to see if anyone else will want them. So driving around your local neighbourhood don’t they say one person’s trash is another persons’ treasure?

Helpful websites

Expat Support
Bob in Oz If you are considering a move to Australia, need some convincing and/or need to know an A-Z on everything concerned with the move to your new land, Bob has it all covered on his website as well as the option to ask Bob if its not covered. His comprehensive content spans everything from migration advice and where to live through to videos on life in Oz and how to land a job.

National Information
Childcare Rebate
Raising Children Resource
Australian Children’s Education & Care Quality Authority
Young People’s Government website 12-18
Kids Helpline
Australian Federal Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations

Early Childhood and Education Departments in each state

Australian Capital Territory
ACT Early Childhood

Qld Early Childhood

New South Wales
NSW Early Childhood

Northern Territory
NT Department of Education and Children’s Services

Department of Education Tasmania

VIC Early Childhood

Western Australia
WA Office of Early Childhood

Activities for kids

Activities 4 Kids
To Do Kids
Oz for Kids
Around You
What’s on 4 School Kids
What’s on 4 Little Ones

Australian Capital Territory
365 Things for Kids in Canberra Facebook Page

Visit Canberra

Brisbane Kids
A Little Bird
Must Do Brisbane

New South Wales
Sydney for Kids
Family Fun Sydney
Ellas List
Go Play NSW

Northern Territory
Around Darwin Children’s Fun

Hobart Kidz

Melbourne for Under 5’s

Western Australia
Buggy Buddys
Kids Guide to Perth
Kids Around Perth
365 Things For Kids In Perth

We love to receive emails and so if you have any local hints or tips you have from around Australia or want to share your personal experience moving from UK or Ireland to Oz, please drop me a line on info@daycaredecisions.com.au

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