Australia invests $1.7 billion in Childcare to boost female workforce
The Australian federal government recently pledged to boost female workforce participation with a $1.7 billion investment in childcare. They say the changes will make childcare more affordable for around a quarter of a million families, meaning women can return to work earlier.
The budget expansion is a welcomed change for working families, increasing the subsidy up to 95% for families with more than one child aged five or younger. It also will remove the $10,560 cap on the Child Care Subsidy.
However, many experts argue that it doesn’t go far enough for women.
Samantha Page, CEO of Early Childhood Australia says although she welcomes any additional investment, she has several ‘hesitations.’
“The changes won’t be rolled out for over a year – that’s a long time to wait,” she said. She also raised concerns that the new rules may make the childcare subsidy program even more complicated.
Is the Morrison government falling flat on their promise of a female-friendly budget?
Although the budget expansion is a welcome change for working families, the question of whether it will make the workplace more equitable for women is still up for debate.
The Morrison government says the budget expansion seeks to remove disincentives for women returning to the workforce. Minister for Women’s Economic Security Jane Hume says the changes will help further close pay and participation gaps.
“These measures will help remove the barriers for parents, particularly mothers, to return to the workforce.”Minister for Education and Youth, Alan Tudge
After months of protests sparked by several allegations of sexual harassment in the federal parliament, these changes feel relatively underwhelming.
Although the budget changes are a great step for working mothers, it may be too little, too late.
Women have been calling for an expansion of the Childcare subsidy package for years – yet the Morrison government has only chosen to roll out additional funding in the wake of huge protests across the country.
“We are still waiting for permanent funding for pre-school programs. And early childcare workers are still not being paid professional wages,” says Page.
More affordable childcare for low-income families
The Morrison government says the changes deliberately target low and middle-income earners. Around half the families set to benefit have a household income under $130,000.
The intention is to remove the burden of childcare costs, which is often a prohibitive barrier for parents, particularly mothers.
The level of child care subsidy is also tapered so that those families that earn the least receive the most. These subsidies apply at the same rate per child, regardless of how many children per family are in childcare.
This may help tackle gendered wealth inequalities too because the cost of childcare often disproportionately falls on women, says Page.
“While childcare should be a shared cost, the cost of childcare is often weighed up against the wage of the parent with a lower income. Which is more often than not the mother.”Samatha Page, CEO of Early ChildHood Australia
However, Page says it still doesn’t go far enough for children and women at risk – particularly those in rural and complex environments.
“We are still waiting on equal access to education for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders,” she says.
“We should be careful to frame the package as an investment in children and early education as well as women.”
What do Aussie Mums think?
Jessica is a Melbourne mother of two daughters. She owns her own hairdressing business and her husband is an electrician. She says that although everyone complains about high childcare fees, many parents “don’t have a choice”.
This sentiment was echoed by another Melbourne mum, Laura, who had her first daughter during the 2020 lock-downs across Victoria. She says that cheaper childcare fees mean that she’ll be able to send her daughter earlier.
At the moment, Laura works two days a week while her daughter stays with her grandparents. However, she says that without the support of her parents and parents-in-law, returning to work would’ve been much more difficult.
This idea was echoed by Page, who says we need to empower families to make the choice best fit for them.
“Women should have the choice to work, but that isn’t the end of the story. We still need to invest in more generous paid parental leave too.”
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Five reasons it’s so expensive to travel right now
We’ve been waiting years to go on holiday, but wow it’s expensive to fly. Here are the five reasons it’s so expensive to travel right now
Remember the good old days of competition in the travel industry? Those were the days. Now every time you look to book a flight, the prices are soaring. Even if you want to use your points.
The airline industry is complex, so a total shut down of the industry was always going to have long term effects. The long hangover from the shutdowns and lockdowns are with us.
So let’s break down the five key reasons your flight is so expensive.
It’s not just you who wants to go overseas and change up the scenery. Everyone else is thinking the same thing.
And as the northern hemisphere enjoys its first lockdown free summer in years, everyone is clamouring to use all that saved up cash, topped up with government assistance, to spend on flights.
The simple supply versus demand philosophy means it’s become an airline’s dream to push up prices while often pushing down the value of the ticket. How bad are those airline meals at the moment?
Big planes are grounded
Remember the good old 747 and A380s? Well you’re doing well to find a 747 in the skies these days. The last remaining airlines that were operating them used the cover of COVID to either reduce their fleet of the ageing Queen of the Skies, or retire them altogether.
Then there’s the A380, which is integral to huge airline flees like Emirates.
They were first to go into storage in the desert in 2020 as the pandemic hit. Airlines noticed its often cheaper to fly two 787s on the same route as an A380. So they are begrudgingly bringing the super jumbo back, but only once all their 787s are back in service first.
Don’t you just long for the days of extra space on a plane?
Rocketing fuel prices
In some cases, spot prices for aviation fuel has soared to 80 per cent! Airlines usually rely on hedging fuel prices (as in locking the price in in advance). But not many carriers in Asia do that, meaning they are at risk of fluctuating oil prices.
Airlines have a simple strategy for dealing with rising fuel prices – passing the cost on to consumers. Some passengers flying out of Asia are finding that a flight to London in economy is now $5000, five times the price.
The war in Ukraine hasn’t helped matters either, with Russian oil now missing from the global supply chain. That’s pushing up the cost of resources everywhere, and there’s no sign that’s about to end.
Lack of staff
Airline staff get COVID too, and in some (hilarious) cases, front line staff are returning to stop working from home!
Airlines have rules in place regarding how many flight attendants and pilots need to be on board an aircraft. And with so many different types of planes in service, some flight attendants can only work on certain aircraft types.
That severely limits the capability of airlines to quickly man aircraft in an emergency. And one cancellation snowballs into a travel nightmare.
Airports are struggling too. Lack of maintenance at baggage carousels and airport equipment means some airports are relying on just one vehicle to help every plane back out of a gate.
Remember when the pandemic hit and airlines sacked thousands of workers? The airlines didn’t think they would need them all back so quickly, and highly skilled pilots went on to find other, perhaps more stable jobs.
Accountants taking over
Airlines are big businesses with gigantic overheads. Think of the cost of a plane, which often reaches over $300 million.
Then add the cost of airports, fuel and staff.
Qantas had a debt bomb of $6.5 billion at the height of the pandemic, and while governments have been throwing money at airlines to stay in business, they still are a business.
Airlines need to make a profit, they need to return value to shareholders, and they need to pay down debt to stay financial. Not to mention cashflow.
So regardless of the airport queue, or the soggy sandwich you’re eating in business class, think of the balding accountants praying for good news.
And keep your eye out for some bargains. It’s not all doom and gloom. Some airlines are even allowing you to burn your points on upgrades. So why fly economy?
And if you can hang on a few months longer, you might enjoy cheaper fares. But no promises.
Disney vs Netflix – who will win the streaming revenue raise?
Netflix and Disney shares fall as the streaming companies fight to stay on top of their game
Investors to evaluate Walt Disney’s shift from cable television to subscription service as the company’s shares fall by 31 percent.
This comes after Netflix announced its first ever decrease in subscribers last month. The company reported a loss of 200,000 subscribers in its first quarter while predicting more losses ahead.
Netflix’s decision to suspend its services in Russia also led to a loss of 700,000 subscribers. It’s shares have also fallen by a staggering 71 percent this year, a bigger loss than its competitor Disney.
While Netflix struggles with its subscriber count, FactSet Estimates predicts Disney+ to have attracted 5.3 million new subscribers through march leading to a total of about 135.1 million subscribers.
Disney also predicts it will have amassed more than 230 million subscribers by September 2024.
Netflix is reportedly considering adding an advertisement-based subscription option by the end of the year as the company looks at how to stay competitive in the increasingly saturated streaming market.
In a previous statement, Netflix’s chief executive said they were looking to introduce advertisements in a year or two but a leaked internal note to the employees has revealed the company is introducing it as early as October 2022.
The note also says Netflix will begin cracking down on password sharing by monetizing it.
All of this has resulted in Netflix being sued by shareholders who argue they have been mislead about the state of the company and future prospects.
Rijul Baath contributed to this report
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