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Rebate reform to hit parents with more than one child in day care.

Just when you thought there weren’t already enough hurdles for mothers trying to get back into the workforce.

It may not have been so long ago Treasurer Peter Costello was urging us to have ‘one for Mum, one for Dad and one for the country’ but welcome to the whirling dervish world of child care in Australia 2015 – where the more kids you have, the more you are punished.

Reports today that the current ‘multiple children’ childcare payment for families with two or more children will be scrapped is just another slap in the face to parents in the paid workforce.

“But hang on, it was not supposed to be this way” I hear you say. That’s right, ladies. This was not the deal you signed up for (or in this case – voted for).

We were promised historic child care reform from the Government that would provide more places, more flexibility for parents and make it more affordable. The Government launched an enormous and extremely expensive Productivity Commission Inquiry for the purpose of making all things wonderful for childcare happen.
In reality, absolutely zero has been done and the child care budget has been shredded (because it is now contingent on being paid for with money that doesn’t exist yet).

“Another slap in the face to parents in the paid workforce”

Don’t believe me? Let’s recap.

The 50 per cent child care rebate that was available to every working parent has been abolished and replaced with a half-baked dodgy means tested subsidy that picks more winners and losers than a bad reality TV show.

The extremely popular, rolled-gold, signature paid parental leave scheme designed so “women of calibre” would not be “denied a career” has been ejected from Parliament House faster than a screaming toddler in a fancy restaurant.

The amount of subsidised childcare for children from low income families whose parents don’t work has been halved from two days per week to two days per fortnight. *This is a particularly disturbing change as quality child care for children from disadvantaged families provides huge benefits.

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“It’s that moment when you realise what you’re going to earn does not even cover the cost of putting your children into care and you have to question whether it is worth it”

And now we have the latest nail in the coffin for the working parents of Australia – families with two or more children will lose their “multiple child” subsidy.

Families with two, three and four children in childcare currently get $18.17, $54.39 and $72.52 in weekly multiple child care subsidies respectively.
For families like mine with four children, it means you can lose more than $270 a month.

As every parent knows this equates to another day of care you could have paid for, and another day of work per week you could have taken.
The simple reality of these policy changes is they hurt the women and children of Australia (and yes 97 per cent of primary carers are still women in our country, mostly because of the disgraceful pay gap that exists and our inconvenient physiological predispositions….but that’s another post).
These brutal changes make that decision to go back to work just another notch harder, just another level more expensive and just a little more out of reach.

It’s that moment when you realise what you’re going to earn does not even cover the cost of putting your children into care and you have to question whether it is worth it.

At least there will be plenty of time to perfect dinner.

The sad, dark truth is these policies will see an army of women returned to their homes, chained to their kitchens and back yards, because it is an unaffordable prospect for them to return to work.

So welcome to the world of childcare policy in Australia – where child care reform feels a little more 1955 than 2015.

Will the changes to the child care rebate affect you?

For more on child care:

Government announces major changes to childcare system.

Possibly the most brilliant child-care idea in decades.

Julie Bishop: “Child care support is not a welfare payment”.