Broken promises usually lead to outrage and disappointment, but Tony Abbott’s decision to dump the Paid Parental Leave scheme has been met with praise from a parental advocacy group.
The Parenthood, founded in Queensland, is a new, not-for-profit advocacy group for Australian parents. It represents mums, dads, grandparents and primary carers, and lobbies government and business on their behalf for positive policy changes.
Jo Briskey is the Acting Executive Director of The Parenthood, and she spoke to me about why they’ve been lobbying the government to focus on childcare.
How did The Parenthood feel about the Prime Minister’s speech at the Press Club this week?
We were really excited to hear the PM talk about a renewed focus on childcare. Thousands of parents tell us they are more concerned about good childcare [than paid parental leave]. We just want to know how and when they are planning to do it.
The Parenthood have been lobbying the government for this change for a while now. Why?
Families are really struggling with the affordability of good quality childcare and the acceptability of childcare, and we really want to see a significant difference for families as soon as possible.
It’s a vicious cycle, isn’t it? Living is expensive so you need to work, but you go back to work and childcare is so expensive. I think it’s one of the biggest issues for families at the moment.
Yes, we need to address the ever increasing out-of-pocket costs for families. We need to look at ways to reduce costs while also maintaining good quality care. What parents tell me they value above everything else is that their kids are getting the best start in life with good education and good programs, but families are struggling to find that care.
Are there any countries doing it right we can learn from?
Absolutely. Unfortunately Australia’s position in the developed nations ranks about 27th when it comes to public investment into early education and care. New Zealand is currently ranked seventh, so we can look as close as our neighbors below for ways in which we can significantly improve that investment into our kids lives.
So you are happy, in essence, that the PM has broken a key election promise.
We have been saying for some time now that that level of funding, that $5.5 billion investment, which is almost equivalent to the entire current childcare budget, is better off spent making childcare more affordable.
Mothers are not struggling to find leave. They are finding it hard to get back to work because they can’t find the care they need, or they are feeling like they are just working just to afford the childcare bill. We see this as a priority and are very glad the PM made this decision and is now agreeing with us that the focus needs to be on childcare.
It’s nice to see someone happy about a broken promise for once!
Ha! True. However, The Parenthood is now calling on the Prime Minister to confirm how much additional funding he plans to re-direct. Parents need to see increased subsidies that reduce out-of-pocket costs for childcare, that are a real incentive for mums and dads to return to work.
Childcare for two children at just three days a week at a $90 a day centre can cost, on average, over $28,000 a year, and after subsidies an average working family needs to find the remaining $12,000. No wonder so many families are finding that their childcare fees equate to the second biggest household bill after the mortgage – it’s just not sustainable.
With more help financially more women will enter the workforce, which means increased productivity, more people earning and more people spending – it’s a win-win for families, business and our nation’s economy.
Are you happy the Paid Parental Leave scheme has been scrapped? Do you trust Tony Abbott to deliver on childcare? Let us know in the comments below!