"I don't expect to pay nothing for childcare. But I also don't expect for women to make a loss when they work."

Dear Scott Morrison,

I know childcare has been on your mind lately. It’s been on mine too.

I just went back to work after my second baby. She’s so super cute, you should drop in for a cup of tea and have a cuddle. (I would even vacuum the house before you came round and potentially make you a chocolate cake.)

Before I went back to work, I sat down to work out how much my childcare was going to cost for both of my kids and what I could expect to have left over at the end of the month for things like, you know, the odd tin of baked beans and the electricity bill.

I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you I NEARLY DIED when I worked it all out. It’s a pretty shocking set of figures.

There is not a lot leftover.

Alys and her baby girl, Claire.

So you can imagine how concerned I am about what you might be planning when it comes to changing up the childcare subsidies – Childcare Rebate and Childcare Benefit.

I want to be really clear. I don’t expect to pay nothing for childcare. I know that I made a choice to have children, and that children come with expenses (as well as their beautiful faces that bring joy to my heart.)

But I also don’t expect for women (or men when they are the primary carer) to be making a loss when they go to work.

I live in the suburbs of Melbourne. Nowhere fancy like Hawthorn, right. Just a regular everyday suburb with working/middle class people. Around here, childcare is about $115 a day.

Lots of mums like me are working part time – four days a week. So with two kids in childcare, that’s $920 a week. Annually, allowing for the two week Christmas shutdown, that’s an initial outlay of $46,000. There’s the Childcare Rebate (thank you for that, by the way) of $7,500 per child annually.

“I don’t expect to pay nothing for childcare, Mr Morrison. But I also don’t expect for women (or men when they are the primary carer) to be making a loss when they go to work.”

So, that’s a tidy $31,000 a year for families with two kids in childcare around here.


The Productivity Commission has been looking at how the Government might more efficiently fund childcare subsidies for families, and they’ve recommended a benchmark model where parents would be subsidised a percentage of a childcare benchmark fee.

The Productivity Commission suggests the benchmark be set at $7.20 an hour.

Now, let’s assume kids are in childcare for 10 hours a day – that’s reasonable, one-hour commute to work, eight hours at work, one-hour commute home. That’s $72 a day. For reference, there is no State or Territory where the average childcare fee is less than $73 a day. (Frankly, it’s not unheard of for childcare in some areas to be as high as $150 a day.)

The Commission says the subsidy should be a) a percentage of that $72 a day and b) be a sliding scale based on a family’s earnings.

“I live in the suburbs of Melbourne. Around here, childcare is about $115 a day.”

Modelling by people who are much smarter than I am shows that families around here will be worse off.

Childcare is an investment in families, in early childhood development and in our economy. It gives children a great start in life, and it means that primary carers – usually mums – can go to work.

Women like me, we bring a lot to a workplace. If you don’t have a mother on your staff, you should get one. We’re great. We work super hard, we are crazy efficient, we have great negotiating skills (honed by three year olds who want chocolate ice cream for dinner, not chicken and vegetables) and we are quite organised. We have to be.

I think we’re worth the investment. And what’s more, I think our kids are worth the investment.

Hey, I was serious about that cup of tea. I’d love to hand you the baby and shoot the breeze on childcare sometime.

Let me know.