Sunday, 24 March 2013

Around the Clock Childcare

There will be $5m spent by the Labor government on introducing and trialing new childcare arrangements intended to support parents in shiftwork. 

"FAMILY Day Care Australia to provide overnight and weekend care for police and nurses doing shiftwork.
EXTENDED weekday care at six Goodstart Early Learning Centres across the nation.
MORE Out of School Hours Care will be offered, with the Government funding the Network of Out of School Hours Services.
THE NATION'S largest childcare group, Goodstart Early Learning Centres, will also offer extended hours at six sites across Australia under the plan.
In NSW, the scheme will fund family day care for police officers and in Queensland, the scheme will focus on nurses. Expanded childcare centre hours and after-school care will be offered in Victoria, SA and WA to other families enrolled in participating centres."
$5m childcare experiment to help shiftworkers tackle 'tag-team run',
 Samantha Maiden -Sunday Mail (SA), March 17, 2013 12:00AM
When I first read this it wreaked of danger and disruption to the life of the child, pressure on the parent who already feels so much guilt and pressure trying to manage a work life balance, provide for their family while getting to spend as much time with their child in these precious early years and not failing their colleagues, employer or ambitions. 
It is being sold to the Australian public as a way to support people in these special roles which demand shift work.  Instead I see a system which does the opposite.  To truly support these parents the government would be better off subsidising the employer to add additional personnel for a team that could carry on shift operations whilst supporting team members who can only work during core hours where childcare is safely available and key hours can still be spent connecting parent and child and giving the child the parental nurture and time they need and deserve.  A real incentive to hire parents or support employees about to start a family.
I am a contractor.  When I became pregnant with my first child I had an employer who appreciated my commitment, expertise and was supportive of my choice to start a family.  He approved extension of my contract after I advised of my pregnancy and agreed to allow me to take a chunk of time off after the birth coming back with reduced onsite hours.  I was blown away.  As a contractor you do not assume any loyalty from your employer.  Six months or so after that he was gone and I was left with a new boss, a lady, who spent the last few weeks I was at work (I worked up til the last month of pregnancy, my boss was getting worried that I shouldn't be allowed in the server room alone)  pressuring me into canceling my contract telling me things like "You won't want to return once you have your child", she knows, it happened to her.  She was in a position where funds constrained her willingness to support me as a new parent.  
Paid parental leave should be taken for granted, we should not still be fighting for it.  I was told the other day that my generation wasn't abandoned, our parents made the decision to stay at home and care for us.  No they didn't.  Our mothers did.  They were expected to terminate their employment and stay home and care for us.  We are lucky to have had that care, we should only be so lucky to have the luxury of being able to stay at home and provide that care to our own children.  For many it is not possible.  I was able to share the early years with my partner.  He took nearly two years off with our first child because of the timing of having our second and my not wanting to go back to work with the second before two years.  He had a greater challenge re-entering the workforce than I did and we have almost exactly the same technical background and job history.  There simply isn't the social approval or expectation that a highly skilled man would take time off to care for their child.  A topic for a different rant however.
Earlier this year the Labor government passed a bill to transfer sole parents living off  welfare payments onto Newstart allowance upon their youngest child turning eight, costing already disadvantaged parents, predominantly women, between $50 and $120 per week. 
"You’re talking about a behavioural initiative to change the behaviour of a single parent trying to raise children. Now, what’s best for children? The best thing for children is to have a parent at home who takes care of them, not one who is pushed out into work simply by poverty. Are you people all crazy?" 
"It’s not a saving. It’s not a saving because those kids will grow up in poverty and what are they going to do?" Tim Ferguson addressing Bill Shorten and Julie Bishop on QandA
If the government were serious about getting single parents and all parents back into work they would support them and their employers to keep them in the workforce and in their employment through the early years off crucial bonding, nurturing and time away from work.  Keep their employment and skills rather than lose them and try rejoining a workforce that has moved on, up-skilled and carried on without them for five to eight years.  We are entering an age where the traditional office is becoming less and less a necessity for an increasing range of roles.  Research and develop provisions to allow parents to work from virtual offices with flexible hours.  Ensure protection from being shafted off to the side of the role you were trained for and gained through years of hard work.

I will never vote for an Abbott government, the man is a megalomaniac with schizophrenic policy statements and devotion to any agenda that will further his ambition to hold the seat of power.  I have  ethical concerns with voting for any NLA government, admittedly a Turnbull government would win me over ahead of the Labor party we currently have to suffer.  Having said that Malcolm Turnbull has spun a lot of bull about the NBN.  It is painful to watch Labor's lack of social responsibility and compassion in their decision making.  Politics in Australia at the moment is disheartening.

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