Category Archives: Uncategorized

Breaking: Key changes to family tax benefits and childcare assistance

A key Federal Government report, known as the Commission of Audit, has recommended major changes to Family Tax Benefit and childcare assistance today.

Key changes include:

  • Abolition of Family Tax Benefit B – the payment that goes mainly to single income families
  • Tighten eligibility for Family Tax Benefit Part A, removing the base rate for higher income families
  • Lower the Paid Parental Leave scheme wage replacement cap to $57,460
  • Scrap the child care rebate and child care benefit and replace them with a single, means-tested payment

What does it mean?  Basically it means more means testing so higher income families will lose things like the child care rebate.

Family Tax Benefit B provides up to $3,018.55 for some families who meet certain conditions, so I wonder how this will affect those families?

There are also a number of other areas of cuts recommended which will affect working families, including the aged pension, Medicare benefits, hospitals, Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, National Disability Insurance Scheme, carers’ payments, aged care, the Disability Support Pension, and school funding.  Read more here.

The real impact will be known when we understand whether the government intends to act on these recommendations and what levels the new payments and new income cut offs will be

Currently child care rebate is available to all families regardless of income and some form of childcare benefit is available to families whose income is up to $170,404 (for three children) plus $32,219 for each child after the third

The Federal Budget will be released on Tuesday May 13.

Watch this space.

Read more:

Are working mums better workers than other employees?

My old boss ( a woman who at the time wasn’t a mum) used to say working mums make great staff because they are the most efficient people on the planet.

It seems the clever folks at the Huffington Post agree. They’ve published Ten Reasons Why Working Mums Make Kick-Ass Employees

Apparently our creativity, financial acumen and ability to multi-task are in demand, along with time management and negotiation skills.

Unfortunately the perception is all too great that working mums come as a cost to business rather than as an asset.

I completely understand it’s annoying when we have to leave on time or else our kids will be left on the footpath, but there are definitely benefits.

Are working mums good employees?  I know I’m biased but I think so 🙂


Kevin’s Rudd’s plans on before and after school care – the details

As we mentioned as it broke this afternoon, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has targeted families – and working mums in particular – in his first formal policy announcement of the election campaign, announcing $450 million for out-of-school hours care.

The funding will allow schools to either extend and improve their existing program or to establish a new program. Up to 500 schools and 345,000 primary school children are expected to benefit.

Mr Rudd told a press conference that, “This is designed to help families with cost of living pressures and to help deal with the time constraints of daily life.”

He said schools could offer “music programs, supervised sports, homework clubs, the practical stuff which makes that time before or after school useful and a fun place to be as well”.

“Organised homework is part of it but we have also seen great programs around the country whereby there is supervised physical activity, kids are taken out from behind the computer, putting balls through hoops and doing all that sort of thing,” he said.

Mr Rudd also said the funds would help encourage more women to stay in the workforce after having children.

Let’s hope that means that there are no plans to change the childcare tax rebate system or childcare benefits too. We’ve written previously about how important  these are to help mums stay in the workforce.

The Government says that the out-of-school hours care sector has increased by 64 per cent since it took office in 2007.

There are currently 8,413 services available – which is great except if your school doesn’t have one.  Hopefully this announcement will help.

Other details as announced by the Prime Minister today are available here.

The Coalition has promised to tackle childcare availability and costs by instigating an “urgent” Productivity Commission inquiry.

Let’s hope we see more from both parties for working mums before September 7.

Breaking – Kevin Rudd promises $450million for before and after school care

On the first official day of the election campaign, an election promise to help working mums.

Kevin Rudd has just announced an additional $450million for before and after school care.

Minister Kate Ellis has said “Not every job finishes at 3pm when the school bell rings”. Absolutely.

Up 500 schools and about 345,000 children aged 5-12 are expected to benefit.

Details at this point are sketchy, but we’ll have more detail and analysis for you soon.

Do you use before and after school care? Is it hard for you to get a place? Too expensive?


Schoolkids Bonus – coming to bank accounts soon

In news just in from the Australian Government, the second instalment of the Schoolkids Bonus for 2013 will be paid in July to lighten the load of mid-year education expenses.

The Schoolkids Bonus replaces the old Education Tax Refund.  The same families are eligible, but there’s no need to keep your receipts and claim them separately, the money will just appear in your bank account

Centrelink customers will be paid from 4 to 17 July (note, the payment will not appear in your Online Services account until the day it is made) and DVA (Department of Veterans Affairs) customers will be paid from 8 July.

If you receive Family Tax Benefit as a lump sum the Schoolkids Bonus will be paid after your Family Tax Benefit claim is assessed. If you haven’t received your payment by 18 July, but think you’re eligible, Centrelink recommends you get in touch.

For those who don’t know much about the Schoolkids bonus, here’s a little info.

How much is it?

  • $410 a year for each primary student ($205 paid in January and $205 paid in July)
  • $820 a year for each secondary student ($410 paid in January and $410 paid in July).

Who is eligible for it?

If you are receiving Family Tax Benefit Part A, and have school aged children, you should be either receiving it or clicking here to find out more.

Can I still claim school uniforms on my tax?

Unfortunately not.  The Schoolkids bonus is a replacement payment and therefore uniforms can no longer be claimed on tax.  The upside is you don’t need to keep receipts any more.

How can I spend it?

However you like.

How do I apply to receive it?

Contact Centrelink or click here.

Where do I get more information?

Try the government website here

What will you spend your bonus money on?


Mums driven back to work early

A survey in The Daily Telegraph today says that mums are going back to work early due to financial pressure.

According to the paper, official figures show the average period of leave is 32.4 weeks (between 7  and 8 months) but their survey showed only a third of mums now take 12 months or more leave.

The article by Lisa Power also said:

Most said they resumed work out of financial necessity once paid leave ended, although 62 per cent were not ready to return due to breastfeeding, difficulty sourcing childcare and exhaustion from night-time feeds. More than 80 per cent would have stayed home with their newborn longer if finances allowed, the survey found.

Even though the figures used by the paper and the official figures don’t exactly compare – so both could be right – it is possible mums are taking less leave because of economic pressure.

Most mums I know start thinking about going back at around six months, but it does depend on their workplace, availability of care and the health of the child.  Many of us use lots of holiday leave and any long service leave with our first baby and if you go back part time, there isn’t much of either left for subsequent babies.  So back to work we go.

How old were your babies when you returned to work?


Do you feel mother guilt, or is it a waste of your time?

There’s been a lot of talk about ‘mummy wars’ – or, in the US ‘mommy wars’, lately.  Most of the debate isn’t particularly new, so we’ve left it alone here at Working Mums Australia.

However, today in The Punch,  Tory Maguire has penned an interesting piece about who actually feels working mother guilt, and asks whether it’s a white collar luxury.  She writes:

What a lot of women are missing in the current discussion about work and family, etc, is that for many women maternity leave beyond the 18 weeks at minimum wage funded by the government is a luxury.

Many mothers, rather than indulging in deep philosophical discussions about whether they, and they alone, are qualified to nurture their child’s creativity and intelligence, are just busy doing their best to pay the bills while raising their kids.

If you want to find people to validate your parenting decisions, or people to compare yourself to so you can feel smug about your parenting decisions, or people to judge and argue with about their parenting decisions, you only need to spend about 3.5 seconds searching online.

The internet is groaning under the weight of privileged women demanding acceptance of their life choices and feeling persecuted because not everyone is patting them on the back.

Personally,  I think all mums feel a guilt of sorts, wondering whether the choices they’ve made about working and decisions about child care, are best for their children.  I think some dads feel it too.

Like Tory, I also attended a kids party on the weekend where this issue was discussed, where the kids were all friends through our child care centre.  We all guiltily admitted that our kids seemed to be the first dropped off in the morning, and we weren’t sure whether the number of days were exactly right for our child, but in a world of mortgages to pay and traffic to negotiate to and from work, no-one was sure what the options were.

Many of the mums admitted that they actually enjoyed work too.  I think this is great – work is such an important part of our lives and our society these days that to spend your working hours doing something you don’t get some fulfilment from is a terrible waste.

One mum chose our centre even though it’s not near her home or work but because she can get to it by 6pm and then drive another 45 minutes home.  Among these mums, our work was all very different; one single mum getting by on casual hours, while another is an accountant at a high flying firm and the first in her firm to have a work from home agreement.

The issues are the same for all of us, and the conversation will continue until there’s a solution.  I’d personally rather be having a conversation about how other mums deal with the practicalities of managing their balance than talking with guilt.  That’s not to say it doesn’t exist, but it need not be all consuming.

Do you feel mother guilt?  Or is it a waste of your time?


Some of our previous posts on how other mums have dealt with the practical issues of returning to work are available below.

Guilt, motherhood and a return to work

Part-time work.  Kellie’s story

Part-time work. Juliet’s story

Part-time work. Tamara’s story

A blog about blogging

Regular readers of Working Mums Australia will know that I’m not really active in the blogging community discussions that happen a lot on Twitter and Facebook.

WordPress (the host of this blog) continually reminds its bloggers to comment on other blogs and get active to get more traffic to your site, which is a really good idea, but my focus has always been to read the blogs I love and then write my own in the subject area of my choice.  So people who come here know they will get info about being a working mum – and usually that’s it.

But please indulge me for one moment.

Today there’s been a bit of a fuss about a piece written by Sunday Life magazine about some of my favourite Australian women bloggers.  It got many of the facts wrong, and the bloggers involved are rightfully ticked off.

It’s confirmed my view for a while that the media is generally pretty keen to denigrate bloggers, especially mummy bloggers.  I think the reasons for doing so are a bit sexist, even when the journalist is a woman and possibly trying to do the right thing. Here’s my theory.

Society has always denigrated women’s conversations with each other.  If they didn’t, the term ‘old wives’ tale’ wouldn’t be a phrase we use to describe something that science hasn’t proven, but keeps being shared among women as being true.

When women talk to each other, men get nervous.  Anyone who’s ever had a chat with other women in a kitchen interrupted by a bloke coming in to get the BBQ tongs knows that.

Are these bloggers are experiencing part of the same phenonenon?  The suspicion that something is going on, that women are gaining something from each other through talking and sharing with each other, and that this is somehow a problem?

I think so.

If you want to read a bit more about this controversy – and some of the excellent bloggers there are in Australia, I would recommend following the links below.

Apologies to followers who only want the working mums stuff – back on topic next post I promise!


Edenland.  Scarily powerful.  She was misrepresented today.  This is her response.

Carly Findlay writes eloquently about why mummy bloggers should be valued.

Alexandra Wrote talks about why bloggers are real writers.