CareerMums and Mums@Work welcomes Labor’s recent announcement to provide an initiative to reduce the cost of child care if elected. With a national skills shortage, women accounting for nearly half of the workforce, and child care costs rising by more than 12% per year, the spotlight on the cost of child care is long overdue.
In a recent survey conducted by CareerMums, the cost of care emerged as one of the biggest barriers faced by women returning to work after parental leave. This is in line with the work done by The Taskforce on Care Costs (TOCC) over the last 3 years, which shows that the cost of childcare has risen by 12% each year, putting at risk workforce participation rates.
Kate Sykes, Founder and Director of www.careermums.com.au, said “I find that in my daily discussions with women who use our service, the cost of care is more often the deal breaker when it comes to returning to work. A child care rebate is a sensible response to assist women back into the workplace. In addition, Labor has proposed that its 50% rebate will be payed quarterly which is a practical step in assisting the family budget. The missing piece of the puzzle is how the cost of child care will be monitored. If the cost of care continues to rise by over 12% per year, both proposed child care rebates will potentially become ineffective.”
Emma Walsh, Founder of Mums@Work, “As a working mother of twins, I understand the reality of childcare being the most prohibitive factor in relation to returning to work more than most. Our childcare expenses are in excess of $450 a week which is not an uncommon situation for Sydney parents with two children in long term day care 3 days a week. The financial, not to mention emotional, burden this puts on families to balance the household budget is enormous. For many parents there simply isn’t a choice. Primary caregivers find they cannot afford to return to work when they add on the additional costs of transport, petrol and other work related expenses, and that’s without factoring in the other hurdles of actually finding a childcare place and negotiating flexible work arrangements.”
Forget childcare reform, we need a childcare ‘revolution’ and paid incentives to financially support parents to get back into the workforce. Most other OECD countries already provide this form of assistance, so Australia needs to catch up if it wishes to remain competitive, grow and prosper into the future with its current skill shortage crisis.