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Howard Government takes the "and" out of work and family.

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MEDIA 04/084



Howard Government takes the “and” out of Work and Family

With both parents working in over 60% of Australian families, the Howard Government is ignoring the current crisis in childcare according to the Australian Democrats Employment spokesperson Senator John Cherry.

“The last childcare census reported that 50% of all parents of young children had unmet childcare needs. They can’t find a place at any childcare centre, or can’t get suitable hours or the cost is simply too prohibitive.

“Childcare costs have increased by 32% over the past two years - more than six times the rate of inflation and around six times the rate of increase in Government childcare benefits.

“In 1997 the Federal Government removed any form of direct funding to community based child care by abandoning “Operational Subsidies”. This has made it harder for low income families to access child care.

“Child care is in chronic disrepair, unaffordable for too many, unavailable in many areas, under-resourced in others, with underpaid staff. In many cases those who can afford higher costs, score better services than those who can’t.

“The Government’s tax rebate is seriously flawed, for a start it will not meet the immediate cost facing families because families cannot access the rebate for 2 years.

“It is a double standard that at the same time the Federal Government announced that it intends to compel single parents of children as young as 6, to return to the workforce, it is failing to provide available and affordable childcare places.

“And for all the talk on the ageing population and increased workforce participation, the Government hasn't any policies to help families combine work and care for ageing parents.

The Howard Government must provide:

• capital support for community-based centres so parents can choose the centre in their area and to meet the unmet needs that create long waiting lists;

• Planning controls to ensure centres and services are equitably distributed

• More funding to ensure childcare is more affordable

• Funding to provide older-daycare

“The Howard Government’s mantra of "Work or Family" not "Work and Family" fails families and eventually the economy,” concluded Senator Cherry.

Media contact: Pam Hose 0408 752 750