Policy makers “need to step up and listen” BPW says, hitting back at CCS revert
Reforming the way in which the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector is funded makes “economic and societal sense” the Australian Federation of Business and Professional Women (BPW) has said, joining with organisations committed to childcare reform to call on the Federal Government to stop plans to ‘snap back’ to “the already broken system”.
In lieu of a return to the child care subsidy (CCS) and activity test model, BPW instead advocates for “a quality national childcare and early learning system that is flexible, available, affordable and accessible,” a statement from the group read.
“Childcare is a societal issue that benefits families balancing work and care; it is not simply a women’s issue but requires a mainstream focus by governments,” a BPW spokesperson said, quoting Grattan Institute research which has highlighted that the high cost of childcare “doesn’t just drain family incomes. It has a big impact on workforce participation, particularly for women”.
Given that women are most likely to reduce their paid work hours to accommodate caring responsibilities, the intersectionality of childcare costs with other elements of Australia’s tax and benefit system can make extra hours of paid work financially unattractive – something which BPW says needs to change.
“The PWC report commissioned by The Front Project published in 2019 showed that $2 of benefits flow for every $1 spent on early childhood education,” the statement read, with BPW Australia President Jacqueline Graham saying that “now more than ever, the need for evidence-based data to form strong and sustainable policy for our post COVID future is a strategic imperative.”
BPW expressed concern that the recent announcement of a revert to CCS by Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan will mean that, for many parents, difficult decisions such as whether to reduce working days or remove children from childcare completely will need to be made.
This, BPW said, will impact women more than men and further reduce the gains we have made over the years of women’s participation in the workforce, and may mean that children and families are “locked out” of education and care because of issues of affordability.
Ensuring access to early learning is critical for children’s learning and development, as well as economic recovery through parental workforce participation, Ms Graham said.
“A post COVID recovery needs to be gender balanced. The Grattan Institute again provides evidence that increased workforce participation by women can boost GDP by $11 billion in the medium term. Our policy makers need to step up and listen to the facts,” she concluded.
For a comprehensive analysis of the recent announcement by Mr Tehan, including impacts to the daily workings of those in ECEC, please see here.