After-hours childcare for 500 families

About 500 families will be given access to after-hours childcare under government trials to make the system more flexible.

The trials, announced by Early Childhood Minister Kate Ellis on Sunday, will target parents struggling with balancing work and family.

Overnight and weekend care will be made available to Victorian and NSW police at six sites, and to Queensland nurses and paramedics at six locations.

Long day care will also be extended at six trial sites around the country for 12 months, and out-of-school-hours care expanded to more locations as part of a 15-month trial.

Ms Ellis says $5 million will be invested in the trials, which recognise ‘‘no two families are the same’’.

‘‘We know there are many parents who, at five o’clock, have to madly dash from work - we want to give them a bit more flexibility to be able to meet their childcare needs as well as their working needs,’’ Ms Ellis told reporters in Adelaide.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said the Labor government had failed to address the changing needs of families.

‘‘The families of Australia need to be supported to work in a 24/7 economy,’’ he told reporters in Sydney.

‘‘We need to look at the flexibility of our system ... we need to look at in-home care as something that could be a bigger part of the childcare system going forward.’’

Australian Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said the trials were a ‘‘crass publicity stunt’’.

‘‘It is only going to affect one in 1800 families,’’ she said.