35% of Australians live in childcare deserts!
Roughly nine million Australians, 35% of the population, live in areas where the supply of child care services relative to the number of children in the community, who may want to access those services is acutely mismatched.
So, why is this noteworthy?
Firstly, it is significant because it challenges the prevailing view amongst Childcare Operators that ‘oversupply’ is the dominant challenge facing this sector. When in fact there is an under supply of these services and there is a need and demand for childcare services within the Australian community. Secondly, this statistic brings attention to the fact that there are large segments of the Australia population that live in areas where children who may want or need early learning services, cannot access them. Additionally, as of January 2022, there was a demand of 1,955,950 for childcare services in Australia with only 607,405 approved childcare places. This reinstates the gross demand for childcare services and the lack of approved childcare places available to the Australian community. This raises the questions, why are early childhood services not made available to 35% of the Australian population? Where are the key locations within Australia that need childcare services?
It was found that major cities have very few neighbourhoods without childcare supply. Regional areas, both inner and outer have significantly higher proportions of communities living in childcare deserts. Whilst remote areas experienced the highest degree of childcare scarcity with over 78% of remote communities living in childcare deserts.
Furthermore, it has been identified that Western Australia, followed by South Australia are the most under supplied regions of childcare services. Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania were averaged around the national median. Whilst Queensland and the ACT present a more balanced supply/demand landscape.
Western Australia, followed by South Australia appear to be the most under supplied regions. Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania clustered more or less together around the national median but with varying proportions in the under supplied segment. Queensland and the ACT present as having a more balanced supply / demand landscape. Additionally, it was found that neighbourhoods with a lower socio-economic class, alongside increased ethnic and linguistic diversity, had less childcare services available to them.
From this, we can clearly see that the Australian population demands more childcare services, particularly in regional and remote areas of the country. There is a gap in the market here, there is a demand and there are opportunities for growth.