The Commonwealth Government has promised an investment of $1.7 billion into Australian families in the upcoming 2021-22 federal budget.
This budget promises to increase the child care subsidies available to families with more than one child aged five and under in child care.
It is understood the promise will impact around about 20,000 families in the Wimmera-Mallee region.
Member for Mallee Anne Webster said the investment would benefit the economy and families.
"This will support families who have two or more children in child care under the age of five at one time," she said.
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"It means their subsidy for their second child will go up from 72 per cent to 95 per cent."
This change will directly impact up to 4000 families; meanwhile, the budget will also remove the $10,560 cap on the Child Care Subsidy, benefitting around 18,000 families.
For families with more than one child in child care, the level of subsidy received will increase by 30 per cent to a maximum subsidy of 95 per cent of fees paid for their second and subsequent children.
Dr Webster said the changes were made to help support families spending a huge portion of their wage on child care.
"Fundamentally, there are families where the second bread earner in the family decides, it's just not worth it because all of their wages goes to child care," she said.
"It means they delay going to work or work partial hours because they have to take care of children.
"This is a targeted approach to encourage mums particularly to go back to work and to be part of the working pool.
"In many respects, this is a women's policy because it assists women to get back to work should they choose to."
Half of the Australian families will now receive a 95 per cent subsidy for their second and subsequent children.
Families with a single child in child care will continue to receive the same subsidy.
The changes in childcare subsidies for more than one child will begin on July 1, 2022.
Dr Webster said child care could impact women returning to work.
"In terms of child care, it is the key barrier to women going back to work," she said.
"To ensure that your children are going to be cared for as well as you would look after them is incredibly important. It's an important piece of the puzzle."
'This is a targeted approach to encourage particularly mums to go back to work and to be part of the working pool.'Dr Anne Webster, federal member for Mallee
Dr Webster said another way to support women returning to work is removing the restrictions of working 9 to 5.
"Flexible hours for women is happening a little more in some workplaces but certainly not across the board," she said.
Dr Webster said the government wants to support more women to go back to work.
In regards to child care centres, Dr Webster said she understands the struggle small towns have in accessing child care.
"One of the issues that we have in Mallee is that we have small towns, like Murtoa who don't have child care facilities," she said.
"I have been linking young families with the CEO of Yarriambiack Shire Council to talk about how the council are looking at supporting that working going ahead."
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Dr Webster said it can be a complicated space given child care are private businesses and councils often work in partnership with larger businesses.
"I have spoken to one of the large national child care providers and challenged them that they need to consider smaller towns and rural centres as being just as needy as our larger towns and to have a look at this issue in a creative way," she said.
There are capital expenditure grants available for councils or businesses can apply for to help develop child care facilities.
Dr Webster said another impact to more child care centres opening privately in smaller rural areas is that due to high regulations it may put off businesses that may only run a few days a week.
"Places need a really viable business model for business to consider it for centres like Murtoa," she said.
Dr Webster said it is a chicken and an egg scenario to get workers out to smaller towns and help develop viable businesses like child care centres.
"If you don't have child care, then young families find it difficult to move to a smaller town to set up business there which could well be viable, but if there is no child care then it makes it difficult," she said.
"We need to work together whether its council, business, communities or government to ensure that we tackle this head on."
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