Criticism around subsidising nannies unfounded
SYDNEY, NSW, April 17, 2012 – CRITICISM around Tony Abbott’s proposed taxpayer-funded subsidies for nannies causing the childcare industry to become less professional were unfounded, according to Australia and New Zealand nanny support body Cafe Nanny.
Cafe Nanny founder and KiwiOz Nannies director, Rachel Lewis, said Early Childhood and Childcare Minister Kate Ellis’ concerns around nannies’ minimum level of qualifications and regulations being non-existent should not be used as a road block.
“I understand Kate Ellis saying there isn’t a minimum level of qualifications, but how about the government coming to us – like they have in New Zealand and the UK – and providing funding in order to meet what’s required,’’ the Sydney woman said.
She said Cafe Nanny’s study last week of more than 100 Australian nannies showed they agreed to ongoing qualifications and development to be eligible for the rebate. “The problem is, the support is not there for the in-home care at the moment – and they want it to be there. In New Zealand and the UK the government is offering that funding and offering support,’’ Rachel said.
She said there were many nannies not paid tax, not receiving super, whose contracts weren’t upheld and who were unqualified. “In turn, if qualified nannies were getting the rebate then the parents would be following the correct tax and legal requirements, because a lot of the time they don’t.’’
She also disagreed with Ms Ellis’ comments on most families not wanting to take funding away from existing childcare funding. “Careforkids.com just did a survey of over 1500 parents, 76% of whom cited financial reasons as their cause for returning to work and 84% of whom said they thought nannies should be eligible for the nanny rebate, so I’m not sure that’s correct.’’ She said the Cafe Nanny survey showed 80% of respondents believed a rebate would provide parents more childcare opportunities and flexibility in returning to work.
Rachel, whose business and networking community extends to New Zealand and the UK, said the rebate system was working in those countries. She set up Cafe Nanny as a way to provide a greater support network to nannies, especially in Australia. “At the moment there’s not a lot of ongoing professional development options for nannies unless they want to do a fulltime nanny training course, which means they often have to stop working. ’’
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Sydney woman Rachel Lewis launched KiwiOz Nanny Agency in 2002 to support Kiwi and Aussies moving abroad to nanny. Now, 10 years later, it has offices in London, Brighton, Auckland and Sydney. To support nannies further, the business developed nanny management toolkits, nanny training courses and its popular nanny support network, Cafe Nanny.
Survey facts and quotes:
- · The Australian survey included 105 respondents, with 15% parents and the remainder nannies.
- · It was conducted from Tuesday, March 27 to Tuesday, April 10, 2012 via online and word of mouth channels.
- · 81% of respondents believed a nanny rebate would improve the professionalism of the nanny industry, with only 7% saying it would undermine the professionalism of the childcare industry as a whole.
- · “It will cut out the black economy and raise standards for Nannies & families who hire nannies.’’
- · 46.5% think the childcare rebate for nannies should be means tested, while 30.3% said no and 23.2% said maybe.
- · “I think this is a fantastic idea, but I also know that there will need to be boundaries, There are a lot of nannies who a lazy and have no respect for the title they carry. I believe that if the CCB is to be applied to nannies there will need to be an overhaul of the nanny industry and will need to be an application process and standards that all nannies will need to uphold.’’
- · “I think that it would make it a lot easier for women to go back to work without lowering the pay that nannies receive. It would also encourage parents to pay nannies properly instead of cash in hand which seems to happen a lot. Nannies give parents lots of flexibility and allow both mums and dads to return to work quicker and with more confidence.’’
- · “As a stay at home mum, with a 4 year old with autism, a 2 year old and a 1 year old, I try to pick up contract work I can do from home. We’ve thought of getting a nanny but it’s been too expensive. The benefit would make it more affordable and make our life SO much easier.’’
- · “The key factor is whether nannies can be supervised sufficiently. Abbott is proposing the In Home Care program be extended. As it stands the scheme is wrought with problems. This came about from the Inquiry into Balancing Work and Family, chaired by Bronwyn Bishop in past years. (the transcript is available.) The only input from the nanny industry would have been from an agency, a training college and two parents if a resource service hadn’t contacted agencies around Australia to inform them of the Inquiry and also their ability to submit their opinions of industry standards. The scheme could work if it was based on the NZ model. Supervision is paramount and carers must attend social gatherings and have spot checks. In Australia, for InHome Care, a family is often checked at enrolment stage, their homes have a safety check and a nanny referred. Paperwork is completed fortnightly – and pays go through. In my experience the carer is NOT checked throughout the placement, there is no request for programming or records. The only requirements that must be met are a first aid cert and references. Placing more children in this program is placing them at risk. Carers are often not even paid Super, as when they fall under 30 hours a week, parents don’t have to! Many carers have experienced difficulty in being paid with consistency.’’