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By Karen Orr Vered (auth.)

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Not to be confused with the Childhood and Childcare in Australia 37 US kindergarten, in Australia, 'Kindie,' as it is colloquially known, is preschool for children from the age of four. The first year of schooling is known as Reception in South Australia and it offers a full day of school, generally six hours in total including a minimum of five and one-quarter hours of instruction, recess, and lunch breaks. m. Although the Kindergarten programmes are subsidized, and often reduce childcare costs overall, the timing of Kindergarten sessions is inconvenient for many working parents.

It suggests that an increase in services would only further benefit the middle class and not necessarily assist families outside this socioeconomic strata. It forecloses discussion of expansion of services or even improvement of services to the detriment of those currently utilizing such services and those who are not but would like to, particularly the lower socio-economic strata and the chronically unemployed. OSHC services are conceived with reference to and measured against an image of the ideal middle-class family home.

Working against a history of childcare as a form of welfare for the under-classes, and working towards an accommodation of contemporary adult employment patterns, OSHe is a key mechanism with which families are managing changes in the public/private divide. One of those changes in Australia is the desire to realize the myth of a middle-class society, or at least a SOciety in which the differences between rich and poor are less acute than in Australia's past and elsewhere in the present. While it is reasonable to challenge the classic mythology of middle-class life in Australia and to criticize its ideals, which include home ownership and the option for one parent to remain outside the workforce while children are in school, we must acknowledge that increasingly the middle-class family is one in which the sole parent or both parents are employed and OSHe provides a critical service to such families.

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