I don’t like to rant and rave about things, but I feel that the topic of childcare and its unaffordability is such an important issue of our time that the more voices out there rallying for change, the better.
The whole system in this country is absolutely deplorable and literally pushing women out of the workforce. And now there is talk about prices going up even further, I just don’t understand how families are going to cope.
I know from first-hand experience how expensive and what a burden the cost of childcare is on our family and I know that I am not alone in this situation. I actually went to Centrelink the other day to assess my situation because as it stands we currently can’t afford to send both our girls to childcare unless I pick up more work (which would still almost not be worth it because the majority of my wage would go to paying childcare) or quit all together (I was advised by one of the staff there that I would be better off not working, go figure).
All of my friends with small children are in exactly the same boat and every single one of the women are saying that they are all considering not returning to work because it’s just not worth it. Not worth it in terms of the time and money spent on sending children into care, but also not worth it in terms of the stress that comes with it.
These women are not trying to “bludge” and actually want the opportunity to get back into the workforce so that they can provide for their families, as well as keep themselves fulfilled and ensure that their career doesn’t end just because they have had children.
Families are now stretched more than ever and are already doing it tough, pushing themselves beyond what is healthy to try and make ends meet. We live in a society where we expect everyone to work, but without the support mechanisms in place to support them.
We don’t have the advantage of generations past where we can send the kids to our parents or other family members, because they too now have to work until a much later age in order to survive. Also, people often don’t have family networks available to them anyway because they are scattered or not close enough to help (or tied up dividing their time between looking after other grandchildren).
And don’t get me started if you’re a casual worker, a shift worker or a single parent. Then you’re really stuffed because you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t. The way the system currently works is that if you want childcare, you need to be on a waiting list for many months, if not years and then, if you’re lucky, you may get a foot in the door.
But if you don’t have a consistent work schedule, then you can’t predict which days you will need to have your kids in care, so then your options are either a.) Book in five days per week so that you at least have secured care for each weekday (which, depending on how many children you have, you probably won’t be able to afford anyway because you’re likely to only be earning enough money to pay for the one child); or b.) Don’t work at all or work weekends and nights. Both options are difficult, especially if your career is a Monday-Friday type of role or if you don’t have support at night or on the weekends.
SO my question to all of the political parties is this: when are you going to start speaking to people on the ground and realise that we are at crisis point? Not just a few families, but the majority of families.
And do you want to push women out of the workforce, because the way things are going, that would seem the most plausible solution for most of us.