Childcare: The disaster the Government forgot

In the Media Latest News | Nov 21, 2016

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By Jamila Rizvi. Article originally published in Kidspot.

Have you ever arrived early at a major event and been unable to catch your friend’s attention in the crowd? It usually happens at a concert or the football.

Despite being only 10 metres away from each other, no amount of jumping up and down and waving your hands in the air and shouting their name works. Your friend just keeps scanning the audience, their gaze fixed slightly above your eye line, oblivious.

This is exactly how parents with kids in child care feel right now.

No matter what we do or how big the problem grows we keep getting overlooked.

Childcare – which is consistently ranked as the most important issue for mums with young kids – is ignored. We are making as much noise as we possibly can but for more than three years now, the Government has been dogged in their determination not to see us.

 

Piggy bank drowning in water

Families across the country are struggling to keep their heads above water when its comes to child care expenses. Source: iStock

 

Let’s break down what’s been promised and what’s been delivered

In September 2013, the Abbott Government came into power promising to overhaul the childcare system. In 2014 they commissioned a report from the Productivity Commission to advise them on how best to do this. So parents had to wait…

In December 2014, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said that instead of delivering on his promised Rolls Royce paid parental leave scheme, he’d divert some of that money to childcare. He didn’t provide any more detail. So parents had to wait…

In February 2015, the Government confirmed they were scrapping the paid parental leave scheme upgrade and would instead put that money ($5.5 billion) towards childcare. Stay tuned in the Budget, they promised. So parents had to wait…

In April 2015, we find out that the savings originally intended for paid parental leave won’t be going to childcare after all. Instead the Government will fund immediate tax cuts for small businesses. There will be more money for childcare and there will be some really positive reforms but not until July 2017. So parents had to wait…

In September 2015, Malcolm Turnbull replaces Tony Abbott as Prime Minister. The Government introduces legislation that will (amongst other things) cut benefits for parents, so the money can be diverted to childcare. They also announce the childcare reforms will be pushed back another year to July 2018. This doesn’t get through the parliament. So parents had to wait…

In July 2016, Malcolm Turnbull’s government is returned to office. With Labor’s help they find $1.6 billion in savings to help fund childcare. But they still haven’t actually introduced legislation to parliament that would reform childcare and provide more financial support for parents.

 

Photo of a father and daughter sitting in the kitchen,daughter is comforting her father who is worried about home bills

The full impact of childcare costs is hard to understand until you’re deep in it.  Source: iStock

 

So parents are still waiting…

The country’s largest childcare provider Goodstart warns that if reforms aren’t passed before the end of this year, then changes won’t take effect until at least 2019. That means babies born when improvements were first promised will be in school by the time anything is actually delivered.

The full impact of childcare costs is hard to understand until you’re deep within it. For families with young children – particularly with more than one age under five – the budget pressure of childcare is comparable with rent or mortgage repayments. It’s an enormous cost burden for a family, particularly if you’re already struggling to make ends meet.

Parents understand that meaningful reform takes time and we’ve given this Government time. But patience can only last for so long. For parents who were previously relying on family tax benefits that have now been cut to pay for childcare reform it’s even tougher.