Rescue package for Victorian child care

Dan Tehan says all options are on the table as Canberra considers help for childcare in Victoria.
Dan Tehan says all options are on the table as Canberra considers help for childcare in Victoria.

Childcare places, centres and jobs will be guaranteed during Melbourne's harsh six-week coronavirus lockdown.

Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan unveiled a rescue package on Wednesday before ramped-up measures to shut businesses take effect.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the initiative would secure childcare spots, while ensuring no centres closed or jobs were lost.

"A triple guarantee for parents, the services themselves, as well as for the employees," he told the Seven Network.

The federal government will allow 30 days of extra absences so places aren't lost while children are being kept home.

Mr Tehan said he was confident providers would waive the gap fee for parents.

"For those parents who can't send their children to care, there will be no cost to them. They'll be able to keep their child enrolled," he said.

With the government providing extra payments to providers, Mr Tehan expects all centres' revenue to be on average between 80 and 85 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.

The minister said keeping centres open and maintaining enrolments were crucial.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said only permitted workers with no one home to look after children would be allowed to access child care.

He said he could not give the green light to a quarter of a million children going to and from child care each day.

"It is a massive reduction and I apologise to those families because child care is not there but there is no alternative," he told reporters in Melbourne.

Australia's death toll has risen to 247 after a record 15 deaths - including a man in his 30s - were reported in Victoria on Wednesday.

In another grim record, Victoria also had 725 new cases.

Devastating nursing home outbreaks continue to weigh heavily on the state, with 12 of the latest deaths linked to aged care.

The prime minister is also offering other states and territories to join Victoria in receiving $1500 payments for workers without sick leave.

Unions and Labor have been pushing for a national scheme, stressing the need to prevent outbreaks triggered by workplace transmission.

"That option is there for other states and territories where they believe they need to move to that stage," Mr Morrison said.

Queensland will close to people from NSW and the ACT from 1am on Saturday, despite Canberra having no active cases and not recording a new infection for almost a month.

NSW recorded 12 new cases on Tuesday with all linked to known outbreaks.

Australian Associated Press