Urgent Expansion Needed to Address Childcare Crisis in Western Australia

Urgent Expansion Needed to Address Childcare Crisis in Western Australia

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Posted on: 23 May 2024


Western Australia is grappling with a significant childcare crisis, marked by an increasing demand for services amidst severe shortages. This crisis is driven by population growth and economic pressures, leading to long waiting times and high costs that hinder families' ability to work and thrive.

The Growing Demand for Childcare Services in Western Australia

The demand for childcare services in Western Australia has skyrocketed due to substantial population growth and economic development. Families are struggling to find available and affordable childcare, creating a challenging environment for both parents and children.

Overview of the Childcare Crisis

The childcare crisis in Western Australia is characterised by a stark imbalance between supply and demand. With the state's population growth outpacing the development of childcare facilities, families face long waiting lists and escalating costs. This shortage not only impacts individual families but also has broader economic repercussions.

Case Study: Kalgoorlie-Boulder

In the historic mining city of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, the childcare shortage is particularly acute. A survey by the City Council revealed that some children have been on waiting lists for over two years. This prolonged wait has forced many parents, especially women, to delay returning to work, affecting local economies and family incomes.

Economic Implications of Childcare Shortages

The shortage of childcare services has significant economic implications. Many parents are unable to participate in the workforce due to lack of childcare, leading to lost income and reduced economic productivity. This issue disproportionately affects women, exacerbating gender disparities in the workforce.

Regional Childcare Deserts

Certain regions in Western Australia, such as the Gascoyne and East Pilbara, are classified as "childcare deserts" where demand far exceeds supply. In the Gascoyne, there are nearly seven children for every available childcare spot, highlighting the severe shortage and its impact on families.

Staffing Shortages in Childcare

A nationwide shortage of qualified childcare staff further compounds the issue. Regional areas face even greater challenges in attracting and retaining staff, as highlighted by Andra Webb of Goldfields Child Care Centres. The industry needs more individuals willing to pursue careers in childcare and a supportive environment to retain them.

Financial Barriers in the Childcare Sector

Financial barriers significantly strain the childcare sector. Despite federal efforts to increase subsidies for families, the rising fees have outpaced these subsidies. Over 90% of families reported fee increases, with many paying more than $120 per child per day, questioning the effectiveness of current policies.

Regional Disparities in Childcare Costs

The cost of childcare varies widely across Western Australia, with remote and rural areas facing the highest fees due to scarcity of services and increased operational costs. Families in regions like the Wheat Belt and Goldfields are particularly burdened by these elevated costs.

Interest in New Childcare Developments

There is growing interest from childcare operators in developing new sites, especially those within 5km of homes or workplaces. The Colliers Childcare Report indicates that these developments are crucial for supporting a growing workforce and addressing the childcare shortage.

Challenges to Sector Expansion

The expansion of the childcare sector is hampered by multiple challenges, including staffing shortages, high operational costs, and strict lending criteria. These obstacles make it difficult for new facilities to be developed and for existing ones to expand.

Funding Challenges for Childcare Operators

Childcare operators face significant funding challenges, with high APRA Risk Weights for loans making traditional funding sources less viable. The contrast with lower risk weights for prime mortgages and corporate loans underscores the financial hurdles faced by the sector.

Private Credit as a Solution

Private credit offers a potential solution to the childcare funding crisis. Unlike traditional funding sources, private credit provides the flexibility and customisation that operators need. This approach could facilitate faster development and expansion of childcare facilities.

Finexia Financial Group's Strategic Response

Finexia Financial Group has taken proactive steps to address the childcare crisis by assigning a dedicated staff member to the region to provide tailored financial solutions to medium-sized childcare operators. This initiative aims to enhance both the accessibility and quality of childcare services across Western Australia.

Population Projections and Future Demand

The Australian Bureau of Statistics projects a significant increase in the population of children under five in Western Australia, adding 13,500 more children by 2031. This growth will further strain the already overburdened childcare system, highlighting the need for urgent and effective solutions.

Government Investments and Subsidies

Both state and federal governments have recognised the need for investment in childcare services, providing subsidies and funding aimed at expanding the sector. However, these efforts need to be scaled up to meet the growing demand and address the persistent issues of availability and affordability.

Innovative Solutions for Childcare Expansion

To effectively address the childcare crisis, innovative solutions are required. This includes leveraging private sector involvement, community engagement, and exploring new funding models. Collaborative efforts can ensure that families have access to affordable and quality childcare.


The childcare crisis in Western Australia demands immediate attention and action. With population growth and economic pressures exacerbating the shortage, it is crucial to implement comprehensive solutions that address both availability and affordability. Collaborative efforts between the government, private sector, and communities are essential to ensure that all families have access to the childcare services they need.


What are the main causes of the childcare crisis in Western Australia?
The primary causes include significant population growth, economic development pressures, and a severe shortage of childcare facilities and qualified staff.

How does the childcare shortage impact local economies?
The shortage prevents many parents, especially women, from returning to work, reducing household incomes and local economic productivity.

What regions are most affected by the childcare shortage?
Regions like Gascoyne, East Pilbara, Wheat Belt, and Goldfields are classified as "childcare deserts" where the demand for childcare far exceeds the available supply.

Why are childcare fees rising despite increased government subsidies?
Operational costs and high demand in certain areas have caused fees to rise faster than the subsidies provided by the government, leading to increased financial strain on families.

What solutions are being proposed to address the childcare crisis?
Solutions include increasing funding for childcare services, developing new facilities, leveraging private credit, and providing tailored financial solutions to childcare operators.

How does private credit help in the expansion of childcare services?
Private credit offers flexible and customised funding options that can facilitate the faster development and expansion of childcare facilities, providing a practical alternative to traditional funding sources.

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