The end of the working mum?
MANY Southern Downs parents will be waiting with bated breath for the unveiling of next month’s budget, following reports the 50 per cent childcare rebate is on the chopping block.
The rebate is currently paid quarterly to eligible parents and reimburses half of their childcare fees paid over the previous three-month period.
But with reports of a tough budget on the way and indications the rebate is to be a major target point, local parents are fearful of where any cuts could leave their families.
Donna Stubbings’ four-year-old son Noah attends ABC Learning in West Warwick three times a week and she said while her family was not dependent on the money, she wouldn’t like to lose the quarterly rebate her family received.
“The thing that ticks me off is that it is our money that we pay every week,” Mrs Stubbings said.
Mrs Stubbings has her hands full juggling the responsibilities of motherhood, part-time work and full-time study and said the rebate made it easier to purchase things such as textbooks or pay household bills.
“I think the current system is very generous and it is good to have that little bonus every few months,” she said.
Meanwhile a Warwick mother of two – who did not want to be identified – said her family did rely on the childcare benefit and without it she would be better off at home.
One of her children attends childcare and she said reducing or scrapping the childcare benefit would have a dramatic effect on her family.
She said she already loses more than half of her income to childcare fees and said any further costs would make working futile.
“Obviously I am fearful that it will be cut,” she said.
“I work four days a week and I rely on that rebate to function.
“I could work without it but I’d only be working for $100 a week – not even that.”
The woman said while it was “nice” for stay-at-home mothers to be able to do that, she didn’t understand how those who either chose to work or had to work were penalised.
“It’s my choice to work and I get that, but why should the parents who are happy with it have to pay more than the people who don’t work?” she asked.
The Rose City mum said her working allowed her family to enjoy a comfortable living and offered the security of knowing she could provide the little luxuries.
“I certainly don’t go out buying big diamonds but if I go down town I know I can buy the big jar of vegemite and not the small one,” she said.
Warwick and District Family Day Care senior co-ordinator Natalie Robinson said it was hard to generalise the effect any changes would have as it would likely hit different families in different ways.
But she said the rising costs of day care lumped on top of soaring everyday costs was likely to impact a lot of families.
She said while the centre was currently full, many centres were struggling to fill places.
“I think that is why there are so many vacancies – because people are choosing to stay home because there doesn’t seem to be a point to working,” Mrs Robinson said.
She said many parents relied on that money and reducing or cutting it would see fewer mothers entering the workforce.
“It’s workable at the moment, but if they’re going to slash it there will have a big impact,” she said.
Mrs Robinson said the burden of childcare fees was intensified for families with more than one child and parents were opting to just send one child to reduce the cost.
“A lot of our families are single child families and the parents are choosing to keep the younger ones at home,” she said.
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