Young children aged up to 6 years old can be cared for in childcare. Victoria's main types of childcare are:
In addition to childcare, Melbourne and regional Victorian centres offer playgroups for parents who want to stay with their child while they socialise with other children.
Private and community based centres are run by qualified staff and are usually open Monday to Friday from 7am - 8am and close around 6pm. All centres must be licensed and are carefully regulated in Victoria, with strict rules on:
You will need to arrange enrolment directly with the childcare centre. Waiting lists are common due to high demand, so it is important to register as soon as possible. To search for Victorian childcare centres, visit the Child Care Centres Association of Victoria website.
In family day care, individuals care for children aged from six weeks in their own home. All carers must be trained in first aid and have undergone the Working with Children Check. By 2014, all carers must have a Certificate III level early childhood education and care qualification.
A maximum of four pre-school age children can be cared for at one time. Family day care abides by State licensing, National Standards and the Family Day Care Quality Assurance system (the national child care accreditation system).
There is no specific government regulation of nannies or au pairs in Victoria. Nannies are usually supplied by specialist agencies listed in the Yellow Pages. The agency should provide you with references for the nanny they are recommending, and you should check these.
Typical childcare costs are:
|Childcare type||Typical price range|
|Centre-based childcare||A$80 to A$120 dollars per day|
|Family day care||A$6 to A$10 per hour|
|Nannies||A$20 to A$30 per hour|
|Au pairs (living in your home)||A$200 to A$250 per week|
The Australian Government pays part of the cost of some childcare through the Child Care Benefit, provided by Centrelink, the government agency that issues social security payments in Australia. For more information about the Child Care Benefit, visit the Centrelink website.
Families also receive a rebate of up to 50 percent of their out-of-pocket childcare costs (that is, the cost they pay after the Child Care Benefit has been taken out) from the Australian Government. For more information, visit the Family Assistance Office website.
Most local governments (check their websites) keep a list of the childcare options available in the local area, and may also be able to help with information about costs, vacancies and operating hours.
Playgroup is a regular group where parents and caregivers bring their babies, toddlers and pre-school aged children to socialise. These groups are different from childcare as parents or carers are responsible for the care of their children. Playgroups are a great way to meet other parents in your community. They also provide good opportunities for children to meet other children, and learn social skills.
Playgroups are generally free, or incur a small fee (A$5 to A$10 per session) to cover costs. Some playgroups are supported by a paid worker, who organises the group and activities. Others are run by the parents, or by local councils, pre-schools or community organisations.
Many local councils can provide information about playgroups running in their areas. You should also check with your religious or cultural association to see if they run a regular group.
For more information and to find a list of local playgroups, visit the Playgroup Victoria website.