Monday, September 26, 2011

Women in the workforce

An unpublished letter to The Age:
Stephanie Peatling reports on more claims of the need for more women in the workforce (Tax breaks for childcare including nannies).  I'd like to point out two parts of the discussion that are missing.

The first is that the issue of higher rates of workforce participation is misleading.  One of the many reasons for childcare costs going up in the last 30 years is the lack of volunteers.  At primary schools the notion of parents running the canteen is fading.  Both of these are symptoms of our communities dying; they are dying because government policy is killing them.  We are being encouraged to pursue careers at the expense of all other needs.  In this case its at the expense of time with our families.  On Tuesday we were told we needed to be able to move around to suit our careers (dump costly stamp duty).  Overall there is a trend of ignoring community needs where they are in the way of a larger economy.  At the same time we wonder why we have increased rates of crime, homelessness, and more disputes among neighbours.  I say to the policy makers that we have a society that is out of balance; our policies are to blame for this, and we should start thinking about more than just the size of the economy.

Secondly, this is not purely a feminist issue.  As an involved father, I also have the same needs that many mothers do when returning to the workforce.  Yet thanks to the flexibility of my manager, I am able to be home for dinner with my childcare aged children at 6pm each night, including collecting them from childcare when my wife is travelling for work.  To Ms Hutchinson - having your employees leave work at 7 is creating a time bomb.  If you are wondering why there aren't more parents in the workforce, perhaps you should look closer to home for the reasons.

Dmitri Colebatch
Father, Husband
Child care volunteer
Career minded professional

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