A new report has come out claiming that after childcare costs are taken into consideration, mums are working for $5 an hour.
It’s kick-started a national conversation about the role of mums in the workforce and childcare affordability.
Commenter’s online are getting heated – both for and against.
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There are the mums who lament the fact that they work practically to pay for childcare fees; one mum revealed that her daycare fees for two kids chewed through two-thirds of her income.
That’s a big expense, no doubt. But there is so much more to this debate than just calculating the cost of childcare against a mother’s take-home pay.
What about continuity of employment and skills development, which could lead to higher paying roles in the future?
What about the 9.5% superannuation contributions, which will continue to be deposited into your retirement savings?
What about the fact that by working – whether it’s one day a week or full-time – you’re contributing to your family’s financial health?
What about the loss of identity that comes with becoming a mother, and the importance of cultivating a life that enriches and sustains you well after your kids are grown?
What about social wellbeing of the woman and the crucial friendships and relationships that develop as a result of going to work and being part of a community?
What about the confidence that comes with completing tasks and contributing to a collective of people who know you as someone other than ‘mum’?
And for the little ones: what about learning new songs and games, developing new skills, experiencing new friendships and concepts, and becoming socially competent with carers other than mum, rather than developing separation anxiety when it’s time to start school?
Yes, $5 an hour is a paltry amount of money and it’s not a good enough incentive to encourage women back into the workforce.
And yes, the government should be doing more to make working for mothers much more appealing.
But as I said – there’s much more to this than simplifying the whole debate down to one single figure.
Creating flexible working structures for everyone, not just parents, is going to be part of the solution.
If this is such a big issue for so many Australians, though, why is it completely missing from the current election campaign?
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