Parents and guardians have reported having their return to work delayed due to a lack of childcare while some are struggling with ‘extremely expensive’ fees, in initial responses to an ACCC Parents and guardians survey.

So far more than 2000 families have responded to the survey, which will provide critical information for the ACCC’s Childcare inquiry which delivers its interim report next month. The survey closes on June 4 and the ACCC is urging more families to take part.

“We urge more parents and guardians to tell us about their experiences accessing quality and affordable childcare,” ACCC Chair, Gina Cass-Gottlieb said.

“We are especially looking to hear from parents and guardians living in Queensland and Tasmania.”

“The responses to this survey so far are creating a vivid picture of the issues families are struggling with and providing critical data for our analysis of the childcare sector and its costs and pressures,” Ms Cass-Gottlieb said.

The majority of families that responded to the survey so far said their childcare fees are ‘somewhat financially burdensome’ or that they struggle to pay their fees. Almost all families said their fees have increased in the past twelve months.

“We are still in the process of collecting and analysing information to understand the cost of providing childcare and the prices people are paying. These preliminary insights from families are providing important perspectives that help inform our evolving understanding of the childcare sector,” Ms Cass-Gottlieb said.

Long waitlists delay return to work

Early responses to the survey show that most families joined childcare waitlists more than a year in advance to secure a spot, in many cases well before the child is born.

Despite this, many families still say they couldn’t get a childcare place when they needed it, which delayed their return to paid work or study, or caused them to have to reduce their hours of work.

Concerns about how waitlists function have featured among several survey responses, with waitlists described as ‘disorganised’, and that the lists seem to ‘operate arbitrarily’.

Some families say their children with disability refused childcare

Some families have said they experienced ‘service refusal’ when they approached childcare providers for a place for their child with disability.

Other families said finding a provider that was equipped to support their child with disability was very difficult.

“We appreciate the experiences of families with children with disability are diverse and while this may not be the experience for all, it is an important preliminary insight from the parents and guardians survey,” Ms Cass-Gottlieb said.

The Parents and guardians survey is open until 4 June 2023 for families with children aged 0-13, or children with a disability aged 0-18. The survey can be completed anonymously.

Parents and guardians from linguistically diverse communities who would like help understanding and responding to the survey can call the Translating and Interpreting Service on 131 450.


On October 28, 2022, the Treasurer directed the ACCC to conduct an inquiry into the market for the supply of childcare services, and the Childcare Inquiry commenced on 1 January 2023. The ACCC is consulting widely as part of the inquiry, including through roundtables with stakeholder groups, issuing information requests to providers, and conducting site visits to meet with small and medium childcare providers.

The inquiry covers centre-based care, outside school hours care and family day care.

An interim report will be provided to the Treasurer in June 2023.

A final report that covers the full range of issues identified and considered by the inquiry is due to the Treasurer by 31 December 2023.

More information about the Childcare Inquiry is available on the ACCC website.