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Childcare costs will cripple the nation’s small businesses – make it free

- August 11, 2020 2 MIN READ

The nation’s businesses owners are calling for the government to reinstate free childcare as the coronavirus crisis continues to decimate their livelihoods.

In a campaign spearheaded by Make it Free and The Parenthood, businesses are demanding the government make child care free permanently or at the very least, reform what is being described as a broken system.

A 2019 report by PwC found that for every dollar spent on childcare, two dollars flows into the
economy, yet campaigners have been told for decades that making childcare free was out of the
question.

That was until Prime Minister Scott Morrison made it free overnight in April 2020, offering a life
line to many businesses impacted by COVID-19 who needed their workers to be able to work,
not be stressed looking after kids while working at home because childcare was too expensive.

“The cost of childcare is so high in Australia that it is a real barrier for parents like me who run
their own businesses. The devastating economic impact caused by COVID-19 has just
exacerbated how unaffordable it is, while simultaneously proving how invaluable and essential it is,” co-founder of Make It Free and Frankly Co. Dee Behan said.

“Australian families have never struggled with the cost of early childhood education and care as much as they are now,” The Parenthood’s Executive Director Georgie Dent said. “For women like Dee and those involved in Make It Free, it’s crippling and will compromise their ability to get their businesses back on track.”

According to OECD data, Australian parents cough up more than 35 per cent of their household income on childcare. That’s more than double the OECD average. While the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDASurvey reports half of theses families struggle to afford the cost of childcare.

Confident that they have compelling economic and ethical arguments on their side, the Make It Free movement believes that by making it free once, the Morrison Government has already shown that it believes in the life-changing impact of free childcare for Australian families, businesses, and the economy.

“Why snapback now? Let’s make it free, and make it happen,” says Behan.

CEO of women’s ride-sharing service Shebah, Georgina McEncroe, says: “We shouldn’t be making money out of our children. It’s time for the government to pay up and make childcare free for good, and for all.”

“You don’t have to be a parent or a business owner to see that making it free makes sense. But as both a mum and an entrepreneur trying to keep her business afloat during a pandemic, I hope the government makes the obvious decision and makes childcare free, permanently,” Behan concludes.

Behan and co. are not alone in their calls for free childcare. just last month the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell, put forward and urgent case for the government to continue to provide free childcare or extend the existing subsidy scheme.

“For small business owners – many of which are mothers – who have been working tirelessly to get back on their feet, childcare has just become unaffordable,” Carnell said.

“Many of these young families working in small businesses are relying on JobKeeper, which will not cover childcare fees reinstated from today. This could force parents – mothers more often than not – out of their jobs, which is detrimental to their business, their families and even worse for the economy.

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