Rachel's Blog: Child-care debate roundup

Tue, 17 Jan 2006

There's more in The Age today on the child-care funding debate. By "debate", I mean a bunch of women across the political spectrum are clamouring for sweeping changes to the way childcare works to boost the flexibility, access and affordability of child care. With which I have no argument at all. Although some policies or strategies for change might be nice to read.

Victorian Liberal senator Judith Troeth said better child-care access should be a priority. ... "If the Government is serious about higher levels of productivity and getting and keeping women in the workforce, we should make child-care funding a higher priority."

That's an oxymoron, given the current government's Victorian-era atitudes. Howard wants both a productive economy, which necessitates as many people in the workforce as possible right now, but he wants women to a) have more kids to bolster workforce numbers in the future and b) stay at home to raise them.

For the record, what I want in child-care is a subsidised place in a high quality facility with loads of highly trained, well compensated staff and an onsite museum (while wishes are horses). Abbey would go for two or three half days a week and we'd both gain enormously from it. I'd get the time I need to work on building up my skills and career, Abbey would get valuable social interaction.

But we're not going to get anything even remotely close to that until Abbey turns three and can attend kindergarten (for which we have applied, have no guarantee of a place and for which we have to pay for in full). Until then we'll try not to get on each other's nerves too much as I balance my sanity against the amount of television Abbey watches.

Barrie Elvish has a lot more to say on the subject at The Courier Mail - well worth reading.
Vicki Dunne wants to extend subsidies to parents who stay at home - hear, hear!
Bronwyn Bishop recommends subsidies include nannies and other private care, which sounds elitist until you remember that health care and emergency services run on shifts, so who else would care for their kids overnight?
This transcript of the 7.30 Report's report includes some nasty numbers:

Australian mothers now have one of the lowest employment rates among OECD countries.
In the year to September 2005, the price of child care jumped 9.1%. That's more than three times the official inflation rate. Only the price of pork and petrol rose more than child care.

Ceridwen Spark's quality opinion piece in The Age last week.

Costello's a moron. It's easy to see where the government's attitudes lie (somewhere in the 1950s) when increased child-care to him means after-school care. Stay home while they're young, but once your kids are in school get back into the 9-5 workforce, slackers! And if he's so concerned about "bad television habits" and that "younger kids are getting chubbier, no doubt about that", why isn't eliminating junk food advertising on television during children's programming on the agenda? (Or all advertising for that matter. Or all television. Yeah, that's it. No need for television when we have the almighty Internet. But the internet is for porn.* Oh, I give up.)

*Yes, that is a very worksafe link, unless your workplace has no sense of humour. (I'm shocked that you would think otherwise, coming from me.)