They say there are two sides to every story, and this is certainly true when it comes to the Australian government's ‘free childcare’ program.
On one hand you hear about the need to stop free childcare - that centres can’t afford it or that some parents can’t access the care they need. On the other are the small business owners, parents who have lost jobs and those hit hardest by the global pandemic, pleading with the government not to be so hasty in switching it off.
Whichever side you are sitting on there is one thing we all agree on: the current childcare system is broken.
Having spent the majority of two-and-a-half years at home with two kids, I recently started thinking that maybe I'd go back to work full time. I genuinely feel like I need a mental break from being a Stay at Home Mum.
WATCH: A clinical and health psychologist helps break down how you can help your children if they're experiencing anxiety during the pandemic. Post continues after video.
In the end, I have no choice to make. We quickly realised that no matter which way we cut it, our family would be worse off if I worked more than three days per week.
Our family now hits the childcare subsidy cap of $10,373 per child. When we did the sums it came to light that I would be paying for the privilege to work any additional days over three. If I wanted to work part-time in my own business we, hands down, couldn’t afford it, and if I went back to work full time in my ‘real job’, well, what was the point?
Given the current global climate, I couldn’t believe I would be saying no to work due to unaffordability of childcare.
KPMG looked at the ‘cost of coming back’ for mothers in 2018, and in particular called out that when women want to increase their days above three per week, they are faced with significant workforce disincentives. Our family, like many others, would be worse off by myself (the mother) wanting to return to work full time.
The example that really struck me was one where two partners are each earning the equivalent of $100k annual income. I like this example, because I previously worked as a physiotherapist in the NSW public healthcare system, and given the award wages this would most likely be my income had I stayed on.