Children of retail workers and their parents disadvantaged by lack of accessible, affordable early learning and care: new report
12 October 2021– Thrive by Five has welcomed the release today of a report commissioned by the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA) detailing the serious impacts on supermarket, retail and warehouse workers from a lack of appropriate and affordable early learning and childcare.
The survey of nearly 6,500 workers across Australia found:
- The precarious and often unpredictable nature of work in the retail sector and a lack of flexibility in early learning and childcare were a major barrier to more parents accessing care and support for their children;
- More than a third (35 per cent) of mothers and 27 per cent of fathers indicated they would work more hours if they could access more suitable childcare; and
- More than a quarter of a million children under the age of 15 of retail workers are potentially disadvantaged by the flow on effects of precarious rostering and the lack of appropriate childcare.
Thrive by Five CEO Jay Weatherill said the early learning system needed reform to better meet the needs of modern retail worker families, rather than leaving too many families in the lurch.
“The results of surveying nearly 6,500 retail workers echoes voices from across the country when it comes to a lack of accessible and affordable early learning and childcare that suits their needs.
“There are limited affordable options to support the many retail workers who work precarious and often non-traditional hours and balance care for their young children.
“This survey confirms workforce participation decisions by retail workers, including more than a third of mothers, are affected if they can’t find suitably flexible and affordable early learning and childcare located near their home or workplace.
“This isn’t just a case of joining the queue at the local centre, our current early learning system lacks flexibility and is not suited to shift workers who may work different hours on different days or adapt for early starts, night shifts and weekend work.
“Universal access to affordable, high quality early learning is critical social infrastructure, gives children the best start in life, supports families, drives workplace participation and underpins economic productivity and growth.
“Thrive by Five calls for increasing investment in early learning and childcare and supports the SDA’s recommendations on work and care, including the urgent need for an all-community work and care summit in 2022 to address the financial and emotional pressure on all workers with care responsibilities,” Mr Weatherill said.