The Parenthood supports the findings of the Regional Australia Institute's latest research report, Against the Odds: Realising Regional Australia’s Potential Workforce. The report, unveiled at the Regions Rising event in Orange NSW today, sheds light on the significant challenges faced by regional areas, particularly access to early childhood education and care, which impact workforce participation.
The report makes several policy recommendations to support workforce growth in the regions, including better housing, early childhood education and care, transport and reform of the Activity Test required to access the Child Care Subsidy (CCS).
Maddy Butler, Campaign Director of The Parenthood, stated, "The struggle for accessible and affordable early childhood education and care in regional areas is a critical barrier to workforce participation, hindering the growth and potential of these communities.
"Childcare shortages not only affect individual families but contribute to labour shortages and economic stagnation in regional areas. We must address this issue collectively to unlock the full potential of regional Australia.
“In a nation grappling with workforce shortages, we can no longer accept that families in regional areas are more likely than urban counterparts to be in a childcare desert.
A childcare desert, as identified by the Mitchell Institute, is a populated area where there are more than three children per childcare place.
According to ‘Against The Odds’, in 2020-21, 25% of the 250,000 women expressing a desire to enter or expand their employment pointed to childcare responsibilities as a primary hurdle. In order to address this challenge, strategic investment in essential social infrastructure, including accessible and affordable childcare, stands as a transformative force, poised to break down barriers and enhance overall workforce participation.
“Improved accessibility and affordability of early childhood education not only empowers families but has the potential to increase working hours, particularly for mothers, fostering greater workforce participation and economic empowerment. By removing barriers to quality childcare, we create opportunities for parents to pursue their careers while ensuring a positive impact on the overall workforce.
On Monday, The Parenthood launched its latest report, 'Choiceless: The Plight of Parents in Accessing Regional, Rural, and Remote Early Learning and Care'. The report resonates with the Regional Australia Institute's revelations as both reports expose the struggles faced by regional families, detailing limited or nonexistent access to early childhood education and care services.
"The findings from both reports paint a vivid picture of the challenges families in regional Australia endure. Whether it's the 91,000 vacant roles highlighted by the Regional Australia Institute or the profound consequences of inaccessible early childhood education and care in 'Choiceless,' the message is clear: urgent action is needed.
"Without fair access to early learning, families in the regions are left without a choice. The consequences are profound, affecting children's social, health, and educational benefits, exacerbating workforce shortages, and causing economic strain on towns," said Ms Butler.