My partner and I moved back to Victoria from rural WA at the end of 2019, with our now 1 year old Leo, and 3 year old Scottie. I am a passionate registered nurse, and my soon-to-be husband, Matt, started a mature aged electrical apprenticeship, to upskill, when we returned to Victoria. We were both very fortunate to continue working through the lockdown in 2020.
The three months of “fee-free” childcare in 2020 meant I was able to pick up extra shifts at both the public and private hospitals in town, when our healthcare system needed me. It also allowed us to save enough for a house deposit, and we purchased our first home in July 2020.
When there was “free” childcare I was working 4-5 shifts per week. Once the free childcare ceased, we received a fortnightly bill of over $700 for the kids to remain in care. Matt and I struggled to justify it; sending 2 kids to daycare and making less than $100 a day was not beneficial to us.
We decided to scale back the days of childcare to 3 days a week, which means I am now working less and staying home more, while Matt continues working towards completing his apprenticeship. I’m unable to pick up as many shifts as I was previously doing. If I’m able to, I will pick up an extra shift on the weekend, so the kids stay home with Matt and we don't have to pay for care. I need to do 2 shifts a month at the public hospital to remain on the roster and, at this point, I am not meeting these requirements.
Through the lockdowns, and the uncertainty of COVID and work, as a family we made the decision, should anything happen, I would continue working and Matt would stay home with the kids. As I was an essential worker, and the hospitals were under such stress, we made the call as a family that I would do my bit to help the community, and Matt would stay home with the kids.
As a parent, making this decision was incredibly difficult. If I was exposed to COVID anywhere, I would have to isolate for 2 weeks away from my family, including Leo and Scottie. I am frustrated by the costs of childcare. I would love to be able to help out more to the community and health system, but unfortunately due to such high costs of childcare, it’s not beneficial to my family.
We’re still in a health pandemic but nurses with children like me, who worked on the front line of the crisis, opt out of work because the cost of care is so much. It doesn’t make sense.
I’ve been very fortunate through my employer to start a COVID vaccination program, meaning I have been able to pick up extra work vaccinating the community on the weekend. This has been financially beneficial for my family but because I’ve been able to increase my income, our subsidy amount has decreased, so we are now paying higher childcare fees ever. I make more money but I pay more money for childcare.
We are able to budget and can still make mortgage repayments within our means. But we both work hard and there is very little money left at the end of the fortnight to do much with the family. We have had to postpone our wedding, to give us a better chance to be able to afford it.
- Lauren from Regional Victoria