The most important commercial opportunity in our lifetime

February 10, 2014

 

There are an estimated 3.6 million children under the age of 12 currently in need of some form of childcare in Australia including before and/or after school care, long day care, family day care, occasional care and informal care. 

 

Even though I don’t have children myself, I understand the urgency of enabling the 3.4 million Australian women who are currently out of the workforce by ensuring childcare is affordable, flexible and accessible. Why? Because when women are able to contribute, everyone benefits! And besides, we as a nation need women to increase productivity.

 

If women wish to stay at home and open a businesses, they too must be considered and integrated within the new Paid Parental Leave scheme and be provided with the same options as those given to employees.

 

Women in Australia, like in most other developing and developed economies, are the prime child carer and face having to withdraw from the workforce to look after their children. 

 

Research suggests that if the level of female employment were to match male employment, Australia’s GDP would be boosted by 11%, which is equivalent to $25 billion! 

 

Even if we are ignorant enough to ignore these figures, we need to note that women have enormous purchasing power; in fact around 85% of the purchasing decisions are made by women. So, it makes sense to ensure women make money so they keep spending it!

 

Today however, when a woman has children her options are limited and more barriers rise. In many capital cities childcare fees can be as much as $160 per day, per child. In rural and regional Australia many women don’t have access to childcare at all!

 

Yes, current Childcare Rebate (CCR) covers up $7,500 per year (no in-home care included) but this still doesn’t allow a great number the luxury of working! Many end up in the red as their salaries go solely to childcare payments.

 

The AWCCI has presented our submission to the Productivity Commission Enquiry into childcare and highlights that without this report, expected in October 2014, the new Paid Parental Leave (PPL) scheme should not be rolled out. Our recommendations include:

  1. widening the criteria for childcare accessibility to working parents by restructuring the existing childcare system to include In-Home Childcare 

  2. extending long-day childcare center hours and 

  3. include the Childcare Tax Rebate (CCR) to families who elect to use In-Home childcare

 

The changes are vital if we are serious about increasing productivity and removing barriers for women.

 

If our nation is to compete on the global stage, we must build a flexible and sustainable childcare system that supports women as active economic agents. We must provide them with the facilities to have equal opportunities, for it is women, both as employees and employers, that stimulate the economy. 

 

It is time that governments and industry realise that it is women that provide ‘the most important commercial opportunity in our lifetime’: childcare must be part of the equation and women must be given access to contracts as business owners.

 

Please click here to send your letter to the PM and other ministers to include women in their supply chains.

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