Supporting Families

We often charge ahead in this place, really focused on what we're doing. The opposition leader today managed to really stop us with a shudder. Families send their children to child care because it's a safe space, not only for learning but for the care of their child, and it is so sickening to hear those reports that the AFP have arrested somebody for the alleged sexual abuse of almost 100 children. Just having that figure is a horrible thing to imagine, and I commend the Leader of the Opposition for shining a light on child exploitation, not only today in the chamber but throughout his whole career. I know it's something that he is really passionate about doing something about.

It is particularly concerning to hear about the terrible trajectory of child exploitation online. I know, from hearing from charities in my shadow portfolio of mental health, that there seems to be an increase in young people reporting sextortion by overseas crime gangs, and this is something that should be a priority of our parliament. As the opposition leader said, there is no bigger responsibility of parliamentarians than protecting our most vulnerable. So I thank him and acknowledge him sincerely for bringing this to our attention, as uncomfortable and horrible as it is.

Moving on to the debate today around families—and again, it's hard to move on to anything other than what we just talked about, because it is absolutely essential—protecting families and representing families and communities is what it's all about. When I'm speaking to people across my community about what matters most to them and the impact of the cost of living on not only them but also their children and their families, they're telling me that they're really struggling right now. They're struggling with energy prices; they're struggling with their mortgage repayments and their rent increases; they're struggling with child care. I know this because I put out a survey and had thousands of responses.

I held a tele town hall. This came back loud and clear. We discussed many things, including the $275 that was promised to them. This actually means something to them. It's not a figure that should have been just plucked out of thin air. Young people, families and seniors are all concerned about the cost of living. Mums and dads, as I said, are trying to put their kids through child care while trying to work.

The substantial rises in childcare fees are taking their toll. I have one example of Chloe from Glenmore Park in my Lindsay electorate. She is a single mom with three children. She works five days a week and needs access to child care. Her children attend a centre in Regentville, which has increased its fees to $170.35 per day. This is unaffordable for Chloe. The out-of-pocket fees have risen almost 50 per cent. The additional costs will mean that this financial year's pay rise for her will go straight to paying the increases in childcare costs.

The government's policies on early childhood and child care are not adequately supporting families. I have another example of this. Sarah from Glenmore Park reached out to me about increases in costs at the childcare centre her child attends in Jamisontown. It has raised its fees by over 11 per cent. She said that there are no changes for her childcare subsidy. She said:

I'm not sure how anyone can expect women to remain in the workforce when it costs so much to send children to daycare. I wonder how many women will actually have to pull their kids out of daycare, because they can't afford it anymore. Those women then stop paying super, and down the track become a burden on the system because they couldn't work and couldn't contribute to their retirement. It makes no sense.

The most important point she raised was about this Labor government's wrongful narrative on its childcare policies. She said:

It has honestly just been so demoralising to realise I won't be saving anything on daycare after hearing for so long that a new subsidy would bring some relief.

We know cost-of-living pressures are stressing Australian families. We should be doing more about it.

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