My name is Alicia Johnson and I am an Indigenous woman. My tribes are Barkindji, Buri Gubbi and Wakka Wakka – I’m also a single mother to a five year old child. This year my daughter will be off to primary school as she is enrolled in her kindergarten class of 2022.
During the enrolment process we have been flooded with a variety of helpful information and supports for our little ones - to assist with making this transition that much easier. One of these was a brightly coloured pamphlet with the words "After school care" proudly written across the front cover.
I am currently working a 9-5 job, and like countless single parents/care providers across this country I will soon be in desperate need of after school care. Although what I found inside the pleasantly designed pamphlet has truly kept me awake at night: the fees and prices associated with this type of care. My daughter will finish school every day at 3pm and I will need to enrol her into some form of after school care at least three days a week.
Here’s the catch… After school care can range anywhere between $20-$40 per session, not to mention that vacation care during the school holidays can be a costly $60 per day – which for me I simply cannot afford. I’m not alone in regard to my cost of living simply not being covered by my income, as described on Australia’s anti-poverty website:
In Australia today 2.65 million adults and children struggle to survive on income payments that are well below the poverty line, that’s over one in 10 Australians – including close to a million children (1 in 5) who are growing up in the poorest families.
I have recently become employed, and my payments have dramatically reduced including my childcare subsidy benefit. This reduction will then be applied to my future payments for after school care/vacation care. Which means I will be paying these fees with a large portion of my income. My daughter hasn’t even started kindy and I’m already trying to figure out the budgeting to see how many/if any days I can enlist my daughter into after school care this year.This shouldn’t be the case for countless Australian families, and especially single parents from low socio-economic backgrounds like I am. I should be worrying about the typical stuff with my daughter beginning primary school – if she’ll make friends and adjust to the new environment. I shouldn’t be trying to figure out where I can cut costs in regard to our food or electricity, both of which are already carefully regulated.
I know, though, I won’t be the only parent/carer provider up at night with these concerns, which is an indicator that something is going terribly wrong regarding our government support of its already vulnerable collectives. We are Australians who are contributing to our country's economy and importantly an array of fields our society depends on; it’s essential that this very society supports us to do so.
If you would like to share your story please email Maddy at [email protected]