Childcare fee increases continue to outpace the cost of living, with poorer families spending a higher proportion of their pay compared with those better off, new government data shows.

And the proportion of people not working because child care is too expensive or they can’t find a spot continues to creep up each year.

A Productivity Commission report released on Friday show the median weekly cost of full-time care was $480 in 2018, or $400 for family day care.

This was up 2.8 per cent from the previous year – outstripping the overall inflation level for Australia which came in at 1.8 per cent in this week’s data.

The most expensive fees, before subsidies, were in the ACT where five days of care cost parents $560 a child. The cheapest was Queensland, at $417 a week.

All up, governments poured $9.2 billion into early childhood education and care, mostly in federal government subsidies for fees.

The Productivity Commission said these subsidies had a greater impact for lower income families but these families still spent the highest proportion of their disposable income on childcare fees, nearly $1 in every $12 earned.

The data reported on Friday relates to the financial year before the new system of childcare subsidies began last July.

Almost one in six parents with kids under school age said they wanted more child care hours each week.

A third of these – 147,000 families – said they wanted the extra care for work-related reasons.

And 37 per cent of parents who weren’t working because they were looking after children said it was because they couldn’t find care, mostly due to price.

This proportion has been growing over the past three years, after falling significantly in 2015.


* Queensland $417 a week

* Tasmania $429

* NT $450

* South Australia $458

* Western Australia $475

* NSW $490

* Victoria $490

* ACT $560