Childcare centres become children's favourite places because they provide a safe environment where kids can learn from loving caregivers, make new friends, and gain valuable life skills while having a great time. Parents are increasingly interested in childcare due to its obvious advantages, but the question of how much it will cost them is often the only thing on their minds.
This is a tricky question to answer because it relies on factors such as one's geographic location, family dynamics, financial resources, and eligibility for public assistance programmes, as well as one's own childcare costs. This article will give you a high-level overview of childcare costs in Australia, as well as the government's childcare subsidy, to make your research and decision-making easier.
FAQs About Childcare Cost In Melbourne
Childcare costs in Australia are among the highest in the OECD, eating up around 27 per cent of families' incomes. As a result, many families are forced to choose affordability over quality. But research shows quality preschools can deliver $2 of returns to the economy for every $1 invested.
In Australia, every child is entitled to free or subsidised preschool for 15 hours a week (or 600 hours in a year).
It is not uncommon for parents to pay a relative who looks after their child long-term, for example, every day after school or every shift they work. Some say that your relative needs to declare this money as income and pay income tax to declare a return.
In Sydney, the average cost of childcare is $167 per day for baby and toddler childcare and $166 per day for kindergarten. Sydney sits just above the national NSQ Rating, with the highest percentage of Sydney childcare centres rated 'meeting' the NQS.
Free kinder is a part of a $169.6 million investment in early childhood education by the Victorian Government in the 2020-21 budget. As part of the economic recovery, free kinder forms to help parents and primary caregivers return to work and everyday life following the pandemic.
Childcare Costs In Australia
Due to a lack of federal oversight, childcare costs in Australia can vary widely between jurisdictions and providers. However, the Australian Bureau of Statistics' most recent survey on Early Childhood Education and Care Costs (2017) can provide a general idea of what it costs across the country.
The average cost of childcare for families who typically use formal care in 2017 was $110.50 per week after subsidies, with the average number of hours used per week being 16. The data also shows that grandparents providing care is the most common form of informal childcare, while long Daycare (childcare centres) and after-school care are the most popular forms of formal childcare.
This table, which displays the average daily cost of formal childcare before government subsidies, was compiled using data from the Department of Education's Early Childhood and Childcare data in Summary.
Costs for childcare vary widely across Australia's states and territories. To help you get a feel for what childcare might cost in your area, we've broken down national averages into averages for each state capital.
Childcare Cost In Melbourne
There are roughly 20 childcare centres in Melbourne, the capital of Victoria; on average, they rate'meeting' the National Quality Standard (NQS), which is higher than the national NQS Rating. The average cost of infant care (0-12 months), toddler care (13-24 months), and kindergarten care (2-3 years) in Melbourne is $149 per day.
Childcare Cost In Sydney
Sydney, the capital city of New South Wales, covers a large area with approximately 35 child care centres. In Sydney, the average cost of childcare is $167 per day for baby and toddler childcare and $166 per day for kindergarten. As a result, Sydney sits just above the national NSQ Rating, with the highest percentage of Sydney childcare centres rated 'meeting' the NQS.
Childcare Cost In Perth
Perth, Western Australia's capital, is home to about eight different daycare facilities. On average, Perth's childcare centres have a NQS Rating of "meeting," which is higher than the national average. The average cost of a day of infant and toddler care in Perth is $149. The average cost of a day of kindergarten is $147.
Childcare Cost In Brisbane
Brisbane is the capital city of Queensland. Because Greater Brisbane encompasses a wide area (making it the largest capital city in Australia by geographic area), approximately 1,433 childcare centres across the suburbs. The average cost per day is $107 for baby childcare, $106 for toddler childcare, and $105 for kindergarten. As a result, Brisbane childcare centres sit below the national NQS Rating, with centres on average 'meeting' the NQS.
Childcare Cost In Canberra
Canberra, the capital city of Australia, covers a large area of suburbs and has approximately 367 childcare centres. Canberra sits above the national NQS Rating, with most centres rated as 'exceeding' the NQS. Baby and toddler childcare costs $125 per day, and kindergarten costs $124 per day.
Childcare Cost In Darwin
There are 125 childcare centres in Darwin, the capital city of the Northern Territory, that collectively sit below the national NQS Rating – however, the highest percentage of childcare centres rate 'meeting' the NQS. The average cost per day for baby and toddler childcare is $104, and for kindergarten, the average cost per day is $101.
Childcare Cost In Adelaide
In Adelaide, the capital city of South Australia, there are approximately 22 childcare centres. The average cost per day for baby childcare and kindergarten is $112, while for toddlers, the average cost per day is $113. As a result, Adelaide falls just below the national NQS Rating. However, most centres are rated as 'exceeding' the NQS.
Childcare Cost In Hobart
Hobart, the capital city of Tasmania, has approximately 11 childcare centres that collectively fall below the national NQS rating, and the greatest percentage of these centres score 'working towards' the NQS. The average cost per day for baby childcare is $95 per day, toddler childcare $92 per day, and kindergarten $93 per day.
Childcare In Melbourne
Private And Community-Based Care
Private and community-based centres are run by qualified staff and are usually open Monday to Friday from around 7 am to 6 pm. All centres must be licensed and are carefully regulated in Victoria, with strict rules on:
- running and maintaining centres
- the quality of care and food provided
- the number of children in attendance.
You will need to arrange enrolment directly with the childcare centre. Waiting lists are common due to high demand, so it's important to register as soon as possible.
Visit the Australian Childcare Alliance Victoriaexternal link to search for Victorian childcare centres.
Family Day Care In Melbourne
In family daycare, individuals care for children aged six weeks in their own homes. All carers must have:
- first aid training
- a Working with Children
- a Certificate III level early childhood education and care qualification.
A maximum of four preschool-aged 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 childcare accreditation system).
There is no specific government regulation of nannies or au pairs in Victoria. Nannies are usually supplied by specialist agencies listed in online directories. The agency should provide you with references for the nanny they are recommending, and you should check these.
Typical Childcare Costs
Childcare costs can vary widely, but Government support is often available to help you.
- Centre-based childcare: A$70 to 185 dollars per day
- Family daycare: A$6 to A$17 per hour
- Nannies: A$15 to A$35 per hour
- Au pairs (living in your home): A$170 to A$250 per week
Government support may be available to you to help you manage these costs:
Child Care Benefit – the Commonwealth Government, pays part of the cost of some childcare. Centrelink arranges this service.
Child Care Rebate – families can also receive a rebate of up to 50 per cent of their out-of-pocket childcare costs (the costs after the Child Care Benefit has been taken out).
Childcare Rates Per Hour
No matter which child care service you choose, you'll either be charged a specific rate per hour or a session rate for the day. If it's the latter, divide the daily amount by how many hours your child attends a day to give you the exact rate per hour. For example, if it's $100 a day and your child attends for 10 hours, it's $10 an hour.
The Early Childhood and Child Care Summary report in September 2018 concluded that the average hourly child care fee for all service types in the June quarter of 2018 was $9.25. It has increased by 3.9 % since the June quarter of 2017.
Depending on which type of approved child care you use, there's a different hourly rate cap. It means that your Child Care Subsidy percentage will apply to either the hourly rate cap or the child care service hourly fee — whichever is the lowest.
Family Day Care Hourly Rate Cap
For family daycare services, this hourly rate cap is $10.90. Therefore, if your family care centre charges $10 an hour, and your child care subsidy rate has been determined as 85%, you will receive a subsidy of $8.50 an hour and will only have to pay the remaining $1.50 an hour.
Kindergarten And Preschool Fees
As state and territory Governments across Australia are largely responsible for their education, this creates huge inconsistencies between which terms to use at different levels of early childhood education.
Care provided to children a year before they begin full-time school is referred to as preschool or kindergarten. This year of your child's education is not compulsory, but it offers a structured, play-based learning program, usually provided by a qualified teacher.
Currently, every child across Australia is entitled to Universal Access, 15 hours of preschool each week (600 hours over a year) for free. The Commonwealth and individual States jointly fund this to ensure that a quality preschool programme is available for everyone, no matter your circumstances. The preschool may still charge a small fee to account for external costs, but you'll be aware of this upon enquiry. If your state uses the term kindergarten for the first year of school, your child can attend a Government school (also known as public or state school) for free, as long as they're an Australian citizen or permanent resident. Attendance is funded by the Australian Government, though you are expected to pay for additional costs, such as voluntary contributions, the uniform, lunch, stationery, extra activities and camps etc.
Private school options are also available through a religious or independent sector. While the Government offers a subsidy towards private educational costs, you will need to pay the difference.
In-Home Daycare Rates
In-Home Daycare is an extremely flexible option. It's a child care service that comes to you, focusing on quality early childhood education. However, this is targeted at families who need this type of care the most, for example, those who can't access regular daycare services. Perhaps you work non-standard hours (shift work), you're geographically isolated from other services, or your family has challenging needs.
The In-Home Care (IHC) program is part of the new child care subsidy system. It's designed specifically for families with complex needs, and with the recent reform, it caters for 3,200 children across Australia.
In the recent Early Childhood and Child Care Summary report, in-home care is categorised with family daycare, which puts the average hourly fee $8.95. It's not the best estimation as they're very different child care services, but the hourly rate cap shines a more accurate light on how much in-home care costs.
The in-home care hourly rate cap is $32.00 per hour. It is significantly higher than the family daycare hourly rate cap ($10.90), showing the difference between these two child care sectors, despite being categorised together for the average cost of care in the recent child care summary report.
Nanny Cost Per Day
Hiring a nanny is a flexible child care option, in which a professional carer with formal childcare training personally come to your home to take care of your child. They are responsible for bathing, dressing and preparing food, and organising educational activities, crafts, and playdates during this time.
It's a fantastic option, but it can be costly. A child care subsidy can't be applied unless you are eligible for the IHC program. In such cases, it's looked upon as a private option, meaning you'll need to pay for their time and expertise out of your pocket.
Every nanny will negotiate their rate per hour, but to guide you on how much you should expect to pay, it's generally between $18-25 an hour. So for a full day, this is roughly $144-200.
Vacation Care Cost
The average full-time worker is only entitled to four weeks of vacation time per year, but school holidays account for eleven. Which begs the question: what is the answer? Vacation care is a popular choice because it provides child care during the summer and other school-free periods. You can keep your regular schedule during the week because it is open normally from 7:00 am to 6:00 pm.
The definition of vacation care in the Outside School Hours Care data section of the Early Childhood and Child Care Summary July 2018 Report is provided. Due to the variability in demand for each service, it is difficult to estimate an overall cost for vacation care. Before and after school care (2 hours per day) and summer camp are two examples of outside care (30 hours).
You can expect to spend about $55 per day on vacation care if you multiply the national average for Outside School Hours rates ($7.50) by the typical length of a school day (seven hours). Excursions could cost extra.
For more information on school holiday activities, including many that are free or inexpensive, check the website for your local Council.
How Does The Child Care Subsidy Affect How Much I Pay?
To be eligible to receive a child care subsidy, you must meet the following requirements:
- Your child should be 13 or under and not attend secondary school (unless they're aged 14 to 18 with a disability).
- Your child must meet the immunisation requirements.
- You or your partner must live in Australia and meet the residency requirements.
- An approved child care provider must deliver the service.
- The child care service must not be part of a compulsory education program.
Once you are deemed eligible, you need to determine what level of child care subsidy your family is entitled to. Three factors are considered:
What Is Your Combined Family Income?
It determines what percentage of the hourly fee you'll be subsidised.
What Is The Activity Level Of Both Parents Over Two Weeks?
Recognised activities include work, training courses, education and volunteering. It determines how many hours you can be subsidised for over a fortnight.
What Type Of Child Care Service Does Do You Want To Use?
The hourly rate cap for that service needs to be considered, so this is a primary factor we'll be looking at more closely.
You can estimate your possible rate on the Child Care Subsidy calculator. Once a decision has been officially made regarding how much child care subsidy your family is entitled to, the amount is paid directly to your child care provider. The provider will then make up the difference.
From this overview on the price of child care in Australia, it's clear that the different fees and subsidies are complex due to a combination of factors including, which child care service you choose, how often your child uses the service and how much child care subsidy your family is eligible for.
However, we hope you now understand the different factors involved with making your child care decisions.
We've compiled some data on the typical cost of childcare in Melbourne to give you some idea. It's important to remember that these figures can change depending on your child's specific care requirements, their age, and whether or not they attend a formal daycare centre. Regardless of where you live, the cost of childcare is likely to be a major financial burden. With any luck, you can use this as a jumping off point in your search for suitable childcare in Melbourne.