Problematising Australia's Nanny Pilot Program as evidence-based policy: a reconstruction of the problem of childcare

Marianne Fenech*, Naomi Sweller

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    1 Citation (Scopus)


    In a notable departure from long-standing childcare policy in Australia, in January 2016 fee relief was extended to nannies providing in-home care in a 2-year pilot program. This policy is significant as fee relief is not tied to the meeting of regulatory requirements designed to ensure quality early learning and care for young children. Drawing on Carol Bacchi's approach to policy analysis, this paper extends previous problematising of evidence-based policy by highlighting the value of first considering how a policy 'problem' has been constructed. We propose that the nanny pilot is an ideologically driven policy that has emanated from a construction of childcare that is adult (parent)-centred and marginalises the needs and interests of young children. Accordingly, certain evidence is privileged while other evidence is ignored, with the ensuing policy focused on economic imperatives rather than quality early learning and care experiences for young children. We draw on an analysis of parent, peak body and researcher submissions to the Productivity Commission's 2013-2014 childcare inquiry, nanny-focused research, and data from three national surveys to explore the limitations of such a policy approach. The utility of problem reconstruction as a means of disrupting policy-informed evidence and the legitimisation of purported evidence-based policy is considered.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)131-146
    Number of pages16
    JournalAustralian Journal of Social Issues
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017


    • childcare choice
    • childcare options
    • childcare policy
    • evidence-based policy
    • nanny care


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