Businesses join to form Make It Free campaign, lobbying for urgent childcare reform

by Freya Lucas

August 11, 2020

More than 50 Australian businesses have joined together to demand urgent childcare reform as the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector faces the prospect of an end to transitional support payment measures, and a return to a fee paying and CCS model, as was in place prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

At the core of the lobbying is the premise that, having made ECEC available to families at no cost once, the Government should do so again, permanently. 

 

Led by businesses from a range of industries including finance and sustainability, the ‘Make It Free’ campaign is fighting against the Government’s decision to snap back to a childcare system they are labelling “inaccessible and unaffordable”.

 

Founder of Make It Free and Frankly Co., Dee Behan, said the cost of ECEC in Australia is “so high that it is a real barrier for parents like me who run their own businesses. The devastating economic impact caused by COVID-19 has just exacerbated how unaffordable it is, while simultaneously proving how invaluable and essential it is.”

 

Her perspective was supported by The Parenthood Executive Director, Georgie Dent, who said for women who are running their own businesses, the “crippling” cost of childcare will “compromise their ability to get their businesses back on track”, citing the 2019 HILDA survey, which found that parents spend, on average, 31 per cent of their household income on childcare, more than double the OECD average.

 

Georgina McEncroe, CEO of women’s ride sharing service, Shehah said the time for “making money out of our children” should now end, adding “it’s time for the Government to pay up and make childcare free for good, and for all”.

 

A 2019 report by PwC found that for every dollar spent on childcare, two dollars flows into the economy, yet campaigners have been told for decades that making it free was out of the question, leaving many to question how the Prime Minister was able to make it so “overnight” in April 2020, offering a lifeline to struggling businesses who needed their employees to keep the economy afloat.

 

It is on the basis of “it happened once, it can happen again” that the Make It Free campaign has been founded, based on “compelling economic and ethical arguments”.

 

The Make It Free campaign has not yet made a website or list of members publicly available. When this information is to hand, it will be linked to here. 

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