Our lives changed in early April 2021 when my husband and I welcomed the most amazing little girl Isla into our family. We had worked hard and waited until we were financially comfortable to expand our family.
As a professional female, I earned just over the means-tested threshold of $150,000 a year, meaning I was ineligible for the government funded Parental Leave Pay (PPL). I felt letdown and unsupported, and had to save and budget for having children accordingly.
I was, however, fortunate that my employer offers three months' full pay maternity leave, and they continued to pay my superannuation guarantee contributions for up to 12 months while on parental leave – a fantastic commitment to supporting women and fighting the superannuation balance gap.
With the maternity leave offered by my employer coupled with our savings, I took nine months off when I had Isla.
As much as I love being a mum, I always knew I would want to return to work. I had completed two university degrees and worked so hard to finally arrive at a place in my career where I really love what I do. Returning to my current role was extremely important to me and so I planned to return four days a week.
I put Isla‘s name down at three Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) centres when I was 12 weeks’ pregnant. We were notified two months before my return to work that we were accepted into our preferred ECEC centre.
In the 18 months since I’d put Isla’s name down, the daily fees at her centre had increased approximately $15 a day. As a result, we pay an eye-watering $35,000 a year to send Isla to daycare four days a week, which is more than the most expensive private high school in Brisbane.
We need ECEC so I can balance motherhood while executing my duties in my pre-maternity leave role (I was adamant to not return to work in a lesser capacity). We also rely on ECEC for Isla’s education and development. In just the first week that Isla attended ECEC her development blew us away.
Planning a second child
We are now actively planning for a second child and, again, I want to return to work afterwards. We will be looking at costs in excess of $70,000 per year to send two children to ECEC.
Given we are not eligible for the CCS for one child, our family also won’t be able to receive any support from the recent announcements to increase the subsidy for families with multiple children and the removal of the cap.
This sort of expense will see us go backwards. If we have another child we will be forced to make decisions that are not in the best interests of the education and development of our children. It absolutely breaks my heart because we thought we were doing the right thing by working hard and getting to a point where we thought we could give our children everything. Current policies are making this impossible for us.
Proposed changes to PPL
The recent announcement from the federal government regarding the changes to PPL will have devastating consequences for our family.
As I have dropped to four days I would have now fit under the previous cap, but with these changes we will be ineligible. The costs for us are unaffordable on a single income with current living expenses. Yet I can’t simply take Isla out of daycare for this period as we would likely lose her place for when I do return to work and I’m not willing to sacrifice her development – because that is the reality. She loves ECEC and has such a special bond with her educators. They are such special souls and 100% part of our village.
The real impact
After I have a second baby, it will not make financial sense for me to return to work. This is where the gap and inequality starts – a woman’s career and superannuation balance is left behind.
Our leaders say they are committed to reaching gender equality, closing the superannuation and gender pay gap, and want to see more women in senior leadership positions. Yet, they are creating and standing by policies that have the opposite effect. These are the obstacles I have to fight to be a mum and a woman in the workforce seeking to be on an equal playing field and to give my child the best start to life.
I feel unsupported by our leaders. Women, children and families deserve so much better.
If you would like to share your story please email Maddy at [email protected]u