You are an unqualified carer at home with seven children under five. A few more older children are also on the premises. In an emergency you have to get out of the house fast. Whose children do you take first – your own or those of others?

This nightmare scenario has come closer due a change in the law that the government is quietly trying to pass through Parliament. The government introduced an omnibus Education Legislation Bill in December that introduces a number of “business-friendly” changes to the education system. There was no consultation with the profession.

The bill includes a change to home-based early childhood services such that the children of carers – usually unqualified – are no longer included in ratios. This means that instead of having a ratio of 1:4 under five-year-olds in the house, the ratio can increase to 1:7 if the carer, for example, has three children of their own. A carer can now also have two older children in before- and afterschool care as well as any number of their own older children.

Professionals are aghast at the proposed change, which raises serious concerns about physical safety, let alone teaching and learning. The home-based association asked for a review of regulations and funding in the sector three years ago but the request was largely ignored.

The publicly listed company Evolve Education is currently moving aggressively into the sector.

Submissions to the Education and Science Select Committee on the legislation, which has passed its first reading in Parliament, close on February 19.