The new agenda is ‘opportunity’ so let’s talk childcare and working mothers
Yesterday I sat next to a woman on a train who was loudly telling a colleague why, “Sandra think she’s coming back but she’s never coming back. She can’t even get childcare sorted. As if she’ll be able to put in the hours.”
Sandra, I could only guess, is a relatively new mother on maternity leave who probably doesn’t realise that assumptions are being made about her ambitions and her plans to return to work. Even worse, there was a hint of glee in the sound of the voice of the woman next to me. “There’s no way. There’s NO way,” she said excitedly. “I love her and she’s really good at her job, but there’s no way she’s coming back.”
Ever coming back? I wondered. Or just not this week, or month or year. I don’t know her, but I really hope Sandra does return.
However, the sad reality is that Sandra (the name’s been changed by the way) may have all intentions of returning and desperately wants and needs to get back there, but is genuinely finding accessible and affordable childcare difficult to access.
Today, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is expected to outline his key priorities for his government. He’s expected to make a considerable shift from his ‘jobs and growth’ mantra of last year, to one that’s about ‘opportunity and security’.
“The opportunity to get ahead and to get back on your feet when times are tough, built on a foundation of economic and national security,” he’s expected to say.
“Enabling Australians to do their best – not setting limits, not telling them what is best.”
Such opportunities are expected to include the ability to get a job, start a business and secure a “world class education”.
The problem for many new mothers is their ability to retain a job once they have children, and to use the “world class education” they may already have.
And if you didn’t already have the job before you had children, then the challenge of attaining a new job is even greater.
According to a number of reports today, Turnbull will mention his childcare package at the National Press Club later this morning, and outline a new strategy for getting his proposed changes through Parliament. The existing changes include streamlining a number of subsidiaries into a single means-tested one, and lifting the rebate cap from $7500 to $10,000 for most families. The changes are slated for July 2018, if the bill can be passed this year. We’re yet to see what, if any, changes he plans to make to what’s already been proposed.
What matters now is that the relief is available, soon.
And no matter what, I really hope Sandra gets whatever childcare she needs.