Social engineering

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.



  1. I am so sad for those children. My younger sister was one of them sitting in childcare. I was blessed to have my mother home.

    God bless you,

    Mrs. Angulo

  2. Great post Jo! I totally agree with everything you say.

    Somebody else raises their children, how sad is that for the children? They will grow up to be exactly the same unfortunately. My mum gave up her career when she got married to take care of her family. She has never worked outside the home to this very day and she is now in her 70's.

    I have tried going back to work,(I was home for my children growing up) but I cant seem to juggle the dual roles, not without getting stressed and grumpy, and what family needs that? So I am home again :) When you earn more, you tend to spend more!

  3. It is such a sad thing to think of all those children being raised to be just like everyone else rather than being at home with their individual families... I am very blessed and thankful to be able to stay at home with my children, and I wouldn't want it any other way no matter the financial sacrifices.

    The trend towards men working longer is not a good one - my children crave time with their father - time he is often unable to give them due to the pressure of the workforce and long hours.

    What I find very interesting is this return to the way the workforce was back in the early to mid 1900s when people were driven to working LONG hours and unions began to introduce the laws for work hours to last a set amount of hours and for overtime to be paid for. How bad will it have to get before the unions start pushing for a set 8 hour work day again?
    Dan's bosses actually hate the fact that he has to work long hours - they are very good about adding up his time-in-lieu and then giving it to him as paid time off work - however it is not good for business in the long-term because he is the only employee and while he is away (taking his time-in-lieu), productiveness decreases and then he has to work long hours to catch up again. It really becomes a vicious cycle.

    Unfortunately the constant demands for increases in pay make it hard for employers in small businesses to hire an extra person on to reduce the need for long hours. It really just goes around and around and you begin to wonder what the answer is. :(

  4. Stopping by after reading your comment at Domestic Felicity. I too am concerned about young moms feeling compelled to return to the work force. We don't have the government rebates in the U.S. but many young mothers are paying off college loans.

    In the States we stress a college education for women and that is okay. But little attention is given to the woman's role in the home.

    I am grateful for my education. I have also found that there are seasons of life. When my children were little I taught Lamaze classes in the evenings. When they started school I returned to nursing part-time.

    The difference with the current generation of young moms is the huge amounts of college debt. I don't know the answer.

  5. The stats you quote are sobering and so sad!!


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