Kerryn Boogaard Kerryn Boogaard
Beverly Goldsmith Beverly Goldsmith
Zoe Bingley-Pullin Zoe Bingley-Pullin

Childcare a red hot issue:

Choice and affordability are the key.
By Bonita Mersiades
Date: October 31 2012
Editor Rating:

The Australian newspaper has an exclusive report today on 2011 Census data which shows just why childcare will be a red hot issue in next year’s election.

The data show that the proportion of mums in a two parent relationship with a child less than 12 months old who stay at home is 52 per cent - which means that the other half are out of the home and requiring some form of child care. Within the timeframe of the next Census in 2016, the majority of mothers in a two parent relationship will be in the workforce. Most of the mothers work less than 25 hours per week.

This trend puts pressure on both parties as they try to come up with the most attractive child care and early childhood development strategy for families, while also ensuring it meets demand, is affordable, sustainable and doesn’t ‘break the bank’ of the Federal Budget.

Key to this will be the extent to which the Government and the Opposition restructure the quantum, purpose and methods by which funding is accessed by families as well as moves to introduce more flexibility into the child care system while still maintaining standards of care and safety. Consideration also needs to be given to meeting the needs of parents who don’t work the ‘old’ hours of 9-5.

Choice and affordability for individuals in different income groups and for the community are the key.

The Australian-based Bank of America economist, Saul Eslake, has long advocated for child care to be a tax deduction.

“Childcare ought to be seen as legitimate cost of employment. If you can’t get childcare, you can’t go to work. It is no less a legitimate tax deduction than a carpenters tools of trade or dry-cleaning a uniform”.

Motherpedia’s recent survey of almost 1,000 mothers showed that 80 per cent of respondents were in work. The Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, recently responded to our survey; the Prime Minister declined.

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