Childcare not parental leave the biggest barrier to women in workforce

7 Aug 2014

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Around Australia today thousands of parents are struggling with how to combine work and family life and they're doing the sums on skyrocketing childcare costs.

Last month the Productivity Commission released its draft report into the childcare system and today it begins public hearings around the country. The first will be in Perth.

The report recommended a new subsidy be introduced to cover 90 per cent of the costs for childcare for families earning over $60,000. That would cost the Government an extra $800 million a year and the Productivity Commission wants to see Tony Abbott's paid parental leave scheme pared back to pay for it.

Elizabeth Proust has held leadership roles in the private and public sectors for more than 30 years. She's currently the chair of Nestlé Australia and also the Bank of Melbourne and I spoke to her a short time ago.

Elizabeth Proust, is the availability and the cost of childcare the most pressing issue for working women?

ELIZABETH PROUST: Yes, it is. A few years now since I've had to personally worry about that, but I'm a grandmother of two young children. I have personal experience of what that means for my daughter.

And I know from talking to many women, both in the workplace and those who would decide to be in the workplace, that finding flexible, quality, affordable childcare is a key issue: not only whether many of them can work or not but also affects the quality of their working lives and their lives in general as they try to juggle and find good-quality childcare.

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