Monday, 9 March 2015

Means-testing the childcare rebate is a bad idea

I read this morning that 50 per cent of the population is female, 60 per cent of university graduate are female and only three per cent of CEOs are female. I don't know what the solution is to close the gap is but I can tell you right now that means-testing the childcare rebate will not help. It sends the complete wrong messages.  

It sends messages like we value women participating in the workforce until they achieve a certain level of success and then we will make it hard for them.  Worse than that, we value women in the workforce unless their partner is successful, in that case we want them at home.

Under the proposed changes recommended by the Productivity Commission, families with a combined income of more than $140,000 will generally be worse off than under the existing system. This is really not that much money. The average university graduate earns $66,000 per year after four years in the workforce.  

In my organisation, at my current level there is a relatively even number of men and women. At the next level, the ratio changes dramatically with far more men than women. There's no guarantee that I will ever be promoted to the next level and I have little aspiration to achieve CEO status but if I don't return to work then there is no chance of this happening.

Under the existing system, where I am eligible for a 50 per cent rebate, it will cost me $177.75 per day to send my three children to child care. If the proposed changes go ahead, I will pay even more. Another option is to wait until Jennifer is at kindy so then I'm only paying for two children to go to day care. Kindy runs from 8.50am to 2.50pm and is five days a fortnight. I would probably need to allow at least half an hour to get to and from work. This would mean I'd be there for a maximum of five hours per day two days a week and possibly an extra day every second week but then what do I do with Spencer and Lewis on that day? 

I also need to take into account the considerable effort that would go into getting three children out the door at a reasonable time and then caring for three exhausted children at the end of the day. Another option is to get a nanny but that comes with other concerns like children becoming attached to someone who isn't attached to them. There are so many things to consider and the point I'm trying to make is returning to work with young children is difficult. For me, means-testing the childcare rebate will just create another disincentive.

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