19 February 2020
1300 794 893

The babysitter's club


by Maureen Jordan

In a perfect world, a woman would not have to work and leave their child in childcare. However, in the modern world we live in, some women want to keep working for career reasons and others simply have to for money reasons. Thankfully, some outside the square thinking has been proposed to recruit grannies along with nannies, who could end up on the Government payroll!

As you can see, this is really outside the square stuff and it surprises me that it actually did not come from some left-wing ideologue mind, but from the very sensible and economically rational Productivity Commission!

The SMH says the number of women working nowadays has gone from 57 per cent to 66 per cent in two decades, while over that time, the cost of childcare is now carving 27 per cent out of an average wage. Between the taxman and the childcare provider, many women are working for around a third of their pay!

And by the way, we’re really slugging our working parents hard as the OECD average for childcare is 17 per cent of an average wage.

OK, let’s accept that something is wrong. How good is the solution?

The Productivity Commission wants to rebate 90 per cent of the cost of childcare for anyone with family income of $60,000 or less, and it would be reduced for higher incomes with those on $300,000 to get a 30 per cent subsidy.

Grannies, nannies and other suitable people could actually work at childcare centres and family day care, provided they have a Certificate III qualification in childcare education.

And while this might work for a young nanny, many grandparents might find the childcare centre crew and education experience a little challenging. Mind you, some might love it, while others might find it too much of a culture shock.

I think this is a good start, but the lateral thinking might need to extend to, what can grandparents do in the home to help their children earn income in a grossly expensive Australia and their grandchildren enjoy time being looked after by their family?

We have carer payments for the elderly, so maybe it could work for the young as well. It might mean the cost of childcare for those who can recruit family members who attract a carer payment would be a lot less than 27 per cent of a working parent’s income.

We need more childcarers and we need to lower the cost of it, and a lot of elderly people need income to help in retirement as they live longer than was once expected on super, which does not exist for a number of older Australians.

If this could be achieved, then the Government might save money subsidising official childcare centres and this might pay for an alternative, grandparents-inclusive system.

The Productivity Commission has rolled the ball on outside the box thinking. Let’s keep it going until we come up with a really good idea.


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