The ACT Business Woman of the Year for 2010, Kate Sykes, has told ABC News that the Federal Government needs to implement policies that make childcare cheaper. With childcare centres costing over $75 per child, per day in Canberra, it’s not hard to see why a parent with a low income job struggles to justify their return to the workforce. Particularly if they have more than one child under school age. That is, if you can actually get childcare. I am an employer myself, and most of the parents who work for me find it easier to just bring the kids to work than to wait forever on childcare waiting lists. And it’s not just a women’s issue – men are now eligible for paid parental leave from 2011, which means more men may soon be considering “return to the workforce” issues.
Kate Sykes isn’t just an opinionated woman spouting off. She actually knows a few things about childcare and women getting back into the workforce. She is the owner of CareerMums, a specialist recruitment service for women getting back into the workforce after having children. She has also written manuals and guides for large workplaces wanting to implement family friendly work practices. And she is chair of Canberra Business Council’s workstyles committee, promoting flexible workplaces. And with Kate Ellis as the new Minister for the Status of Women, as well as Minister for Employment Participation and Child Care, perhaps this is a good time to be talking about Federal policies on childcare costs.
The question is, do you agree with her? I know I do! But I don’t want cheaper childcare at the expense of cutting childcare workers wages. I believe they are already underpaid given the years of tertiary study and level of responsibility they have.