For many working families, the cost of childcare can make or break a decision about who heads off to work each morning, and for how long. Full-time, part-time and flexi-time options may allow more participation in the workforce but in Australia but the rising cost of childcare is becoming an issue for many parents.

In March of this year, Australian Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Education and Development, Kate Ellis highlighted the rising cost of childcare under the Liberal government. Despite the Liberal promise that childcare would become more affordable she released figures proving otherwise.

They revealed that a ‘family on an income of $155,000 (£89,000) a year are, on average, paying an extra $7400 (£4,259) for child care under Turnbull’s Liberals’.

Politics aside, the rise in childcare can be attributed to many factors present in Australian society. There has been a real increase in female participation in the workforce, which has in turn increased demand. Figures from the beginning of 2016 show that 59.4% of women are now in the workforce, a figure that has risen from 43.4% in 1978. Statistics show that more women go back to work – and full-time work – at that if the childcare provision is good. With the increase in demand, there is very little incentive for childcare providers to reduce their costs.

A report compiled by the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling found that the cost of child care had risen by 150% from $30 (£17) a day in 2003 to $75 (£43) 10 years later.

There are many options for Australian’s when it comes to childcare. The Australian government website MyChild lists them Long Day Care, Family Day Care, In Home Care, Outside School Hours Care and Occasional Care.

Some parents are eligible for Childcare Benefit, although this is income related, and limited to approved or registered childcare. It is, however, one way parents can afford to go back to work, for now.

There are obviously huge variations of costs dependant entirely on where you live.  In Sydney itself, parents in the outer suburbs can pay $60 (£34.50) a day, whilst families on the lower north shore, and eastern suburbs, can find fees topping $160 (£92).

There are plans afoot to change the childcare system, with the government attempting to decrease the cost by July 2017. They are hoping to cap an hourly limit of $11.50 and streamline subsidies for parents. The Childcare Subsidy plan will be means tested, and offer parents a subsidy of between 50% and 85% of the actual fee. There are other credentials to be met but it seems to be a step in the right direction. Although many argue that some childcare will still be too expensive.

The Australian government hope that: “The Childcare Subsidy will provide assistance to meet the cost of childcare for parents who are working, looking for work, training, studying or undertaking any other recognised activity such as volunteering. These changes will provide more generous assistance for hardworking Australian families.”

Whether it does this remains to be seen. Watch this space.

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