Child Care Subsidy will leave thousands of families worse off — are you one of them?

KeepHealthCare.ORG – Child Care Subsidy will leave thousands of families worse off — are you one of them?

Posted

June 13, 2018 06:03:58



Photo:

Rebecca Tucker could lose her childcare payments as part of the reforms. (Facebook: Bec Tucker)

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In under three weeks, the Child Care Subsidy comes into force, and while it was designed to be fairer, there are fears many working families will be left thousands of dollars out of pocket.

The new subsidy was hailed as the most significant change to childcare in forty years, set to give the largest subsidy to those on the lowest incomes, and replace both the childcare rebate and benefit.

However, the payment will be subject to a means test and an activity test, which means parents will have to be working, volunteering, studying or looking for work to be eligible.

Critics say as many as a quarter of a million families across all income brackets will be worse off under the changes, because they do not fit into the very strict criteria.

Who could be disadvantaged?

Alys Gagnon, the executive director of families lobby group, The Parenthood, said while she welcomed the overhaul, the trend towards a casualisation of the workforce meant many families would not be able to meet the activity test on a weekly basis.

“When you’re working casually, or you are working irregular hours those predictions are very difficult to make,” Ms Gagnon said.

“That might mean some families are left with a very big debt at the end of the financial year … it may be a debt that they’re not able to pay.”

Rebecca Tucker was diagnosed with breast cancer while she was pregnant with her second child and has been undergoing treatment for two years.

With the side effects of chemotherapy, radiation treatment and a mastectomy, Ms Tucker said normal child care was not an option and instead had a childcare worker look after their two children at home, while her husband was at work.

“I’ve not been able to pick up my son pretty much since the day he was born,” Ms Tucker said.

“It’s made it quite challenging to do day-to-day things that a lot of mums take for granted.”

Rebecca Tucker and her daughter in a hospital bed

Photo:

Rebecca Tucker was diagnosed with breast cancer while she was pregnant with her second child. (Facebook: Bec Tucker)

But under the reforms, she could lose her payments, and she said she feared she would not be covered for in-home care.

“The problem is we don’t fit the mould,” she said.

“We’re not covered under the NDIS because cancer is not a permanent disability, which is great, but we don’t really fit into the conventional tick and flick boxes.”

Tomorrow she will undergo major surgery, and said she was worried she could lose her home child carer while she was recuperating.

“Terrifying is an understatement,” she said.

Ms Tucker said her family was now in limbo while it waited for answers, and said the consequences of being without cover would be devastating.

“It is quite a scary path that we are facing at the moment,” she said.

Activity test ‘a step backwards’: mother

Mother and blogger Olivia White — who has 70,000 followers on Instagram — does not fit the strict criteria because she and her husband are self-employed.

She said some weeks she could fail to meet the work activity requirement, while at other times she could exceed it, and her income would vary significantly from year to year.

“It really puts us in a grey area,” Ms White said.

“When it comes to our activity hours for both of us, there are huge variations in that, because we work on a per job basis effectively.

“And I don’t have the luxury of having a payslip to say how much I will earn in a year so it could be quite a big variation.”

Olivia White hugging her two kids.

Photo:

Gippsland mother and blogger Olivia White said her family was in a “grey area”. (Instagram: houseofwhite)

“Even a few thousand dollars change in your income will make a huge change to the subsidy that you’re eligible for.”

Ms White said she believed the new activity test disadvantaged working mothers.

“It is quite restrictive for women who cannot return to the traditional workforce,” she said.

“I am not unique … there are a lot of women who are working from home, starting their own businesses.

“It is a step backwards for women like me.”

Topics:

child-care,

family-and-children,

community-and-society,

activism-and-lobbying,

government-and-politics,

public-sector,

federal—state-issues,

brisbane-4000,

qld,

australia

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-06-13/child-care-subsidy-will-leave-many-families-worse-off/9859876

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