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4704.0 - The Health and Welfare of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, Oct 2010  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 17/02/2011  Final
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ACCESS TO HEALTH AND COMMUNITY SERVICES: CHILD CARE
This article is part of a comprehensive series released as The Health and Welfare of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

KEY MESSAGES
  • According to the 2008 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey, over half (56%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0–12 years had used child care (formal and/or informal) in the week before interview.
  • Informal child care was the most commonly used care arrangement, used by half (50%) of children, with grandparents being the most common care provider (26% of children).
  • Around one in seven children (14%) used formal child care. Long day care was the most common formal care setting for 0–4 year olds (60%) and before/after school care for 5–12 year olds (69%).
  • Parents/carers of around one in seven (14%) children needed (more) formal child care. In remote areas, unavailability of child care was the most common reason for not using more formal care (40% of children needing more care). In non-remote areas it was cost (31%).

This topic explores child care arrangements for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0–12 years, using latest data from 2008 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS). The NATSISS collected information about children's care arrangements in the week prior to interview (August 2008 through to April 2009) including both formal and informal care. Formal child care is regulated care away from the child's home, and includes before and/or after school care, long day care, family day care, and occasional care. Informal child care is non-regulated care arranged by a child's parent/guardian, either in the child's home or elsewhere.


USE OF CHILD CARE

According to the 2008 NATSISS, 56% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0–12 years had been cared for using informal, formal or a combination of both types of care. Use of child care varied with age and was more frequently used for children aged 0–4 years (61%) than children aged 5–12 year olds (53%) (graph 2.1).

2.1 USE OF CHILD CARE, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children—2008

chart: use of childcare by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0–4years and 5–12 years, 2008
Source: 2008 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey
These estimates are also available for download from Access to Heath and Community Services datacube



Informal care arrangements were more common than formal care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in 2008. While 14% of children attended formal care, one in two (50%) had informal care arrangements, with grandparents as the most common informal care provider (for 32% of 0–4 year olds and 23% of 5–12 year olds).

Use of formal child care was highest in major cities with one in five (21%) children aged 0–12 years using formal care compared with 12% in regional areas and 9% in remote areas (table 2.2).

While there is no directly comparable information available on child care use for non-Indigenous children, the Childhood Education and Care Survey 2008 collected information for all Australian children (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and non-Indigenous children) (Endnote 1). This survey collected information on arrangements used to care for children aged 0–12 years in the survey reference week (June 2008) as well as usual care arrangements. Estimates presented here are for usual care arrangements.

In 2008, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were more likely to use child care (both formal and informal care) than all Australian children (56% compared with 43%). However, the type of child care used varied, with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children much more likely to have informal care arrangements (50% compared with 29% of all Australian children) and less likely to be attending formal child care (14% compared with 22% of all Australian children) (table 2.2).


2.2 USE OF CHILD CARE, children aged 0–12 years—2008
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children(a)
All children(b)

Major cities
Regional
Remote
Total
Total

%
%
%
%
%
Used formal child care
21.0
12.3
8.6
14.2
21.6
Used formal child care only
8.9
5.4
2.8
5.9
14.5
Used informal child care
47.4
49.9
55.0
50.3
28.8
Used informal child care only
35.3
42.9
49.2
42.0
21.7
Total used child care (formal and/or informal)
(c)56.3
55.3
(c)57.8
56.2
43.4
Did not use child care
(c)43.7
44.7
(c)42.2
43.8
56.6
Total
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0

(a) Based on care arrangements in the week prior to interview.
(b) Based on usual care arrangements.
(c) Difference between Major cities and Remote is not statistically significant.
Sources: 2008 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey, Childhood Education and Care Survey 2008. These estimates are also available for download from Access to Heath and Community Services datacube.
USE OF FORMAL CHILD CARE

Nationally, 14% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0–12 years attended formal child care in 2008, with younger children more likely than older children to be in formal care (22% of 0–4 year olds compared with 9% of 5–12 year olds).

Among children attending formal child care, 59% were attending due to parental work/study commitments and 27% because it was considered good for their social and intellectual development.

Both the type of formal child care services used, and the time spent in care varied according to age. For children aged 0–4 years attending formal care, 60% attended long day care centres and 25% family day care centres. Children in this age group spent on average 17 hours per week in formal care, with 33% spending 21 hours or more, 32% spending 11–20 hours, and 34% up to 10 hours.

Among children aged 5–12 years attending formal care, the majority (69%) attended before and/or after school care. On average, children in this age group spent nine hours in formal care in the week prior to interview.

The 2008 NATSISS included a question about preferences for child care services run for and by Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people. Nationally, parents/carers of 26% of children would prefer a child care service run for and by Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people and this was more common in remote areas (37%) than non-remote areas (23%). However, parents/carers of the majority of children (62%) reported no preference.


NEED FOR MORE FORMAL CARE

Nationally, parents and carers of 14% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0–12 years required more formal care. The majority of children requiring care were not currently using formal care (81%).

Parents and carers of children living in remote areas were more likely to require more formal care than those living in non-remote areas (17% compared with 13%). In remote areas the most common reason for not using more formal care was the unavailability of formal child care services (40%) while in non-remote areas it was the high cost of formal care (31%).

Parents/carers of nearly one in four (24%) children aged 0–4 years required more formal care. Among this group, over half (56%) required 1–10 hours of additional care per week, 26% required 11–20 hours per week, and 18% required more than 21 hours per week.

Parents/carers of 5–12 year olds were less likely to require more care (7%), and among this group 1–10 hours of additional care was required for the majority of children (80%).


ENDNOTES

1. Australian Bureau of Statistics 2009, 'Childhood Education and Care, Australia, June 2008', cat. no.4402.0, ABS, Canberra, <www.abs.gov.au>.


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