lifestyle

Denying child care to non-working parents is not about yoga and coffee.

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.

The Abbott Government has forgotten 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.

These are the people the Government think they are targeting. But they 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.

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And this policy is very, very bad for those people.

Finding a job can be a full time job. If you’re struggling to put food on the table and to raise children or you have other caring responsibilities, it is next to impossible.

Make no mistake – it is hard to get a job. People who have a job can forget how hard it is. It takes time to get a job. If you are on Newstart payments, you need to turn up at Centrelink. You need to go to meetings with your job service provider. And you need to write an extraordinary number of job applications in order to keep your payments. Then, if you get a interview, you need to be able to prepare and go.

Finding a job can be a full time job. If you’re struggling to put food on the table and to raise children or you have other caring responsibilities, it is next to impossible.

People who are looking for work or who have a job that desperately need child care. In many ways, they need child care just as much as those in work.

The Government and Scott Morrison have forgotten the people who are trying to get into work. And they will be the biggest losers in this policy.

More: “I don’t expect to pay nothing for childcare. But I also don’t expect for women to make a loss when they work.”

But there is a second group of people who the Government has forgotten – and that is the children of people who are out of work.

These are vulnerable kids, kids who might be struggling to get a good start. Yes, the Government forgot about children, when it was writing its child care policy.

Yes, that’s right. The Government forgot about children, when preparing its child care policy.

We know that putting children into quality child care results in better school success, a decreased crime rate, less substance abuse and increased long-term employment. Child care is good for kids and it is good for society. So when the Government cuts these children out of the picture, they are not just letting these kids down, they are letting the country down.

In truth – the Government has forgotten the people who need child care the most: The people who want to work but can’t. The children of people who are unemployed.

They’re the people who need the support of the Government the most – and they’re the people the Minister and the Government have let down.

Do you think people who aren’t working need child care? 

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