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Universal childcare urgently needed for women in small business: Kate Carnell

Adrian Flores
Adrian Flores
22 February 2021 1 minute readShare

Small business ombudsman Kate Carnell has called for universal access to high-quality, affordable early education, saying it would deliver essential support to women in small business.

Ms Carnell said affordable childcare is urgently needed for women and families who work to get their small businesses back up and running.

She pointed to the latest Productivity Commission data that shows there was a 21.7 per cent rise in the number of parents and carers in Australian who didn’t work due to childcare costs in 2020, compared with the previous year.


“According to those figures, 90,000 Australian parents stayed out of the workforce last year because the cost of childcare was too high,” Ms Carnell said.

“At the moment, Australia’s childcare costs are the fourth highest in the OECD, taking an average of 27 per cent of household income.”


Ms Carnell said women make up more than a third of Australia’s small business owners (38 per cent).

Further, she said that for women and families in small businesses, particularly those that are relying on JobKeeper or still in the process of recovering from the COVID crisis, childcare is unaffordable.

“We know the COVID recession had a disproportionate impact on women. With childcare fees remaining too high, mothers — more often than not — need to spend more time at home to look after their kids rather than working to grow their business. It’s bad for small business and even worse for the economy,” Ms Carnell said.

“Now is the time for the government to be considering innovative ways to increase participation rates for women to ensure productivity gains and to benefit businesses.



“There are a number of ways for government to do this, including making childcare more tax-effective or by phasing in an expanded subsidy scheme as recommended by the Grattan Institute, estimated to deliver an $11 billion boost to the economy.

“Crucially, affordable childcare would allow more women to work on growing their businesses — an important contribution to Australia’s economic recovery.”

Universal childcare urgently needed for women in small business: Kate Carnell
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Adrian Flores
Adrian Flores

Adrian Flores is the deputy editor of MyBusiness. Before that, he was the deputy editor for SMSF Adviser as well as features editor for ifa (Independent Financial Adviser), InvestorDaily, Risk Adviser, Fintech Business and Adviser Innovation.

You can email Adrian at [email protected].

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