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Mums say childcare fees forcing them out of workforce

9News.com.au logo9News.com.au 4 days ago Tineka Everaardt

Video provided by A Current Affair

Australian mums are questioning whether it's even worth returning to work as families drown in childcare fees.

Childcare expenses can devour a huge portion of a working parent's salary.

Mum and blogger Adele Barbaro was faced with the life-changing dilemma when her job went from part-time to full-time.

"Last year I was working four days a week and my children would go to daycare four days a week as well - after the childcare rebates we were out of pocket $35,000," she told A Current Affair.

High childcare fees have been blamed for forcing mums out of the workforce. © A Current Affair High childcare fees have been blamed for forcing mums out of the workforce. "My husband and I sat down and worked out going to work full-time and putting the children in full-time (childcare) made absolutely no sense whatsoever."

According to John Daley from public think tank The Grattan Institute, if mums work four or five days a week instead of three, childcare, income tax and the withdrawal of benefits whittle away their take-home pay.

The Institute found a woman can lose up to 90 per cent of the extra wage she earns when she works more days.

"The big hurdle is, how much do I get to take home out of my pay, if I work an extra day?" Mr Daley said.

a close up of a person: Adele Barbaro said returning to full-time work would have made no sense after she had children. © A Current Affair Adele Barbaro said returning to full-time work would have made no sense after she had children. "The problem is for a lot of women in Australia, they get to take home very little, and sometimes nothing."

A couple with a combined income of $157,000 with two kids in childcare would be just $5500 better off if the mother worked five days instead of two.

Mum Hannah was working full-time in a job she loved before having a child, but has now embraced part-time working hours.

"I studied for quite a long time to be where I am," she said.

Grattan Institute data shows mums working full-time lose a lot of their take-home pay to childcare. © A Current Affair Grattan Institute data shows mums working full-time lose a lot of their take-home pay to childcare.

"I feel like if I was to take too much time off in the workforce, that would be a negative impact on my career progression."

But she said she wanted her motherhood to be recognised as an equally important role.

After subsidies, families paid on average $74.30 a week for childcare in 2011, $100.50 in 2014, and $110.50 in 2017.

Adele said the subsidies were "fantastic" but that too many childcare centres, particularly privatised ones, simply hiked up their fees to match them.

a woman smiling for the camera: Mum Hannah has embraced working part-time. © A Current Affair Mum Hannah has embraced working part-time.

She was dumbfounded to find her childcare fees were going up another $7 a day.

"I see the public-listed privatised (childcare centres) reporting millions of millions of dollars every year, but I find it's at the expense of hard-working Aussie families," she said.

"It's quite gut-wrenching."

Labor has pledged cheaper childcare for every working family earning up to $174,000 a year, if elected.

Shadow Education Minister Amanda Rishworth said families with a combined income of $69,000 or below, would "effectively get free childcare".

Education Minister Simon Birmingham said the Coalition had created a great childcare system and was committing $75 million to a skills program to help women get back into the workforce.

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