This is not a conversation about privileged Stay At Home parents.
The Government wants to crack down on non-working parents who put their kids in childcare so they can go to yoga and drink mojitos at lunch – but they’ve got it so wrong.
Over the weekend, the Government continued to tease the public with elements of their new child care funding package, which they plan to announce in this month’s Budget. But the policy that they have announced forgets the people who actually need child care the most.
Cutting through the hedging and spin, the upshot of the Government’s police so far is this: There will be a single, means-tested rebate that will be paid directly to the child care centre (effectively reducing how much you will have to pay – unless the child care centres take the opportunity to jack the prices up). Plus, there is a new element – a tougher activity test, which will mean that parents will need to work a minimum number of hours before they can receive childcare support.
Not working? No child care payments.
More on child care payments: It’s time to stop paying the child care rebate to anti-vaxxers.
Our instinct is probably to think this is a good thing – the Government is cracking down on yummy mummies who want to put their children in child care so that they can go sit around in paleo cafes wearing Lululemon leisurewear talking with their friends about which ski resort has the best creche.
But that couldn’t be more wrong.
The Minister for Social Services, Scott Morrison explained the reason for this change like this: “The purpose of doing any of this in childcare principally is to help families be in work and stay in work.”
And that’s fine and almost entirely true. Child care payments are not ‘welfare’ – these payments are about equality and reprieve. Having the government subsidise child care is about making sure that women can return to work after having children. Once back in the workforce, women can build savings, including retirement savings. They can continue to rise through the ranks and reach executive levels – improving the experience and the commercial competitiveness of businesses.
More on women in the workplace: This is why reverse sexism is not a thing.
But when Scott Morrison talks about supporting families to ‘be in work and stay in work’, he has missed a very important part of the community – those people who aren’t in work and who want to be.