Mothers in Australia are returning to work quicker than ever before after the birth of their children.
Mothers are no longer staying home until their youngest child starts school at the age of 5, they are returning much sooner. Even though most would say it has to do with money, much of this has been engineered by governments believing that this is “best” for the country and the economy. And they have successful in convincing the women of Australia that it is good.
One of the first changes that has “encouraged” mothers to return to work came about by the conservative government of Prime Minster Howard (yes, a conservative government). His administration introduced the childcare rebate in 2006 (reducing the overall cost of childcare) and by 2008 (the end of his government) 52% of mothers were turning to work long before their child turned 5 (compared to 40% in 2001-yes, still high). As the childcare rebate reduced fees, more women returned to work — in 2006 the rebate reduced fees by 30% and in 2008 to 50%, now it is around 60%. As a result of these changes, only 25% of mothers are at home caring for a child and this is unlikely to be a full-time long term arrangement, compared to 50% in 1983.
In June 2010, 869 770 children were enrolled in childcare, up 8.7% on June 2009. This will continue to rise with our current Labor Government who have made changes to the scheme so that parents will now receive their rebate fortnightly rather than 3 monthly.
As a direct result of the Federal childcare scheme we are now seeing a rise in children in formal care and the quicker return of mothers to the workforce. I was once one of those mothers and looking back I regret very much returning to work too hastily —and would do things very differently now. Women often say that they must return to work as soon as possible otherwise their career path will be threatened—I would love to say to these women (none read this blog sadly) that in the scheme of things, their career should always come second to their children, far are more precious than any job. Sadly, too many women are putting their careers above their children. And, this is being endorsed by government (conservative and left).
This is a good example of government engineering without the people necessarily thinking it is. It looks (on the surface) to be government helping out families by reducing the cost of childcare. It is, in fact, far more than that.
And on a side note, whilst many mums with young children are returning to work, their partners are working longer hours —dads hours have increased by 5.7 hours per week between 1997 and 2006. That's just over an hour extra per day.
Men who do not put in the longer hours and leave work before other men are often frowned upon, this is still not considered socially acceptable, particularly in white collar jobs (eg banking). Some are “punished” when they go for promotions later on.
So all in all, its looking pretty bleak for all those children sitting in childcare waiting for mum or dad to pick them up.