Two in three Australians would stay at home to look after their children if they could afford it, and a further 11 per cent are “undecided” over the issue, new research from BankWest has found.
The findings suggest the high cost of living and our expectations of a modern lifestyle are the main problems facing families today.
According to the 2006 Census, 1.7 million of the 2.3 million Australian families with children have both parents at work. The BankWest research found the majority of Australian families have no choice but to use childcare in order to meet financial responsibilities placing extra burden on already stretched childcare resources. And one in five families say the high cost of childcare has prevented them from having more children, while almost half believe they are spending too much.
“The results suggest that we are longing to return to a simpler age, where a parent was at home – usually a mum,” Selina Duncalf, BankWest’s head of strategy and products said.
According to the research, there is a small slice of society (almost 2 per cent) which spends up to a staggering $800 per week on childcare. The average weekly spend on childcare was $174 while 57 per cent spend up to $200. A further 19 per cent spend up to $400, while 7 per cent spend up to $600.
The groups who spend more than $200 are generally those with more children in care, are on a higher income or are using nannies to deliver their care. Ironically, while most families believe their childcare costs are too expensive, they also want to see wages for childcare workers increased potentially lifting their costs.
The majority of Australian families use long day care (55 per cent) followed by occasional care (23 per cent), family (22 per cent), family daycare (14 per cent) and private nanny (5 per cent).
A quarter of parents use childcare for three days per week, while 22 per cent use it for five days, another 22 per cent for two days followed by 16 per cent with one day, and 14 per cent for four days per week.
Other interesting facts:
- More than half believe government rebates are insufficient.
- More than 57 per cent believe the government should be doing more to subsidise childcare.
- More than 42 per cent found it difficult to secure a childcare place.
- The majority of Australians surveyed (82.1 per cent) said they were happy with the level of care. For the remainder who are unhappy, most of them referred to the childcare staff as the main reason for their concern.
Ms Duncalf says the day of the SuperMum may have passed.
“Are the number of women who want everything – a family and a full-on career dwindling? Is there a new conservatism brewing in our suburbs where the appeal of family life over the pressures of work and the corporate world is returning?”