They also make sense given the impacts of ongoing labour shortages resulting from the COVID pandemic’s disruption of immigration and the global demand for workers.
“Women returning to the workforce face a multifaced challenge. Encouraging females into the workforce is not a ‘nice to have’, it’s an economic imperative.”
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, net migration fell last year by about 90,000 people. There are 500,000 fewer temporary migrants and half as many international students in Australia now compared with 2019.
But there are 400,000 job vacancies, the highest level on record and almost double pre-pandemic levels.
Meanwhile, a demographic shift is seeing baby boomers (aged 57 – 76), the second-largest population demographic, retiring with further significant impact on the workforce.
In last month’s Commonwealth budget, the Treasurer Jim Chalmers announced funding of $4.6 billion over four years that will go some way to making childcare more affordable for a wider range of families earning less than $530,000.
The Child Care Subsidy (CCS) for eligible families will increase up to 90 per cent (for those earning less than $80,000), with the CCS rate tapering down by 1 percentage point for each additional $5,000 in income beyond $80,000. Families with a second (and subsequent) child in care aged 5 and under will benefit from CCS rates of up to 95 per cent.
Earlier in the year the New South Wales government announced significant investment to support women’s economic empowerment, including funding for childcare and early childhood education to help alleviate cost-of-living pressures.
Two key elements include funding of $5 billion over 10 years for 47,000 extra childcare places and the introduction of universal pre-kindergarten for all children in NSW by 2030. These reforms will see 95,000 women enter the workforce or increase hours worked over the next 10 years
Meanwhile the Victorian government has said it will invest $9 billion over the next decade to overhaul the state’s early childhood education and care, including making kindergarten free across the state, offering a year of universal pre-prep and establishing 50 government-operated childcare centres.
Like the childcare centre industry and parents using childcare, we welcome these reforms. As healthcare bankers we maintain strong support for investment in the childcare sector and any reforms which make it easier for women to return to work without adding further financial burden.
Impact of childcare cost and availability on women's working hours