ABC Learning in Receivership – 1st Anniversary Today

Media Release: LHMU [Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union]

Childcare union calls on Government to make this a happy anniversary by stepping in to protect standards at ABC Learning centres

On the first anniversary of ABC Learning going into receivership LHMU, the childcare union, has called on the Federal Government to ensure the remaining centres are sold to a reputable, quality operator.

On 6 November 2008 Receivers McGrathNicol were appointed to Australia’s largest privately owned childcare operator. One year later McGrathNicol are still at the helm of ABC Learning, making this the longest running receivership in Australian corporate history.

Sue Lines, LHMU Assistant National Secretary, says “After the anxiety of the past year, the last thing workers and families need is another ABC taking over the 705 centres the Receivers are selling on behalf of ABC Learning’s creditors, the big banks.

“Recent reports of the interested potential buyers do not alleviate concerns about what lies ahead. Mission Australia is in a consortium with 5 other not-for-profit organisations… and a little-known private equity group, ArcherCapital.

“A stable, reputable and quality operator is the priority for families and workers and it must also be the priority for governments to ensure childcare in Australia is operated in the interests of families and workers.

“This sale process highlights weaknesses in Australia’s childcare licensing regime under which licences to operate childcare centres are issued by state and territory governments. There are no national standards with which potential owners must comply in order to operate a childcare centre. This isn’t good enough.

“Australia’s childcare licensing regime must be strong enough to control and protect quality. It’s not appropriate for the big banks to decide behind closed doors who will control these centres, which represent 15% of Australia’s childcare sector, merely because they are ABC Learning’s major creditors.

“The stakes are too high for the Government to sit back and let the big banks decide short and long term outcomes for families and workers. They must step in now.

“Families value the commitment of the 13,000 childcare workers who have provided professional care and education for young children at ABC Learning centres throughout the past year despite the long, stressful months of uncertainty about the future of the centres and of their jobs.

“It’s time for the Government to again do the right thing by workers and families,” says Sue Lines.

ABC Learning in receivership:

  • Jobs lost: 835
  • Workers currently employed at ABC centres: 13,000
  • Centres on 6/11/08: 1037
  • Centres merged or closed: 82
  • Centres already sold: 250
  • Centres currently on sale: 705
  • Licensed childcare places: 55,000
  • Children currently at ABC centres: 73,000