Matt WadeSenior writer
The nannies would be entitled to Sundays off and a return airfare home for two weeks each year.
The cost of childcare has been a political bugbear for more than a decade. But a submission to a government inquiry into childcare has found a novel solution: low-cost nannies from Asia.
The Indonesia Institute, a Perth-based think tank, says carers from countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines should be allowed to come to Australia and mind children for $200 a week to help ease pressure on family budgets.
Under the scheme families would provide their Asian child carers with accommodation, clothing and medical insurance. The nannies would be entitled to Sundays off and a return airfare home for two weeks each year. A special agency would regulate the scheme and ensure foreign workers were not mistreated.
The institute acknowledges its plan might encounter “some entrenched protectionist opposition” but argues “the great bulk of Australian opinion would recognise the substantial gains from trade that would accrue to both Australian families and Asian nannies”.
Its submission to the Productivity Commission childcare inquiry says Asian nannies could also help with household chores, allowing Australian parents to devote more time and energy to parenting and their careers.
A pay rate of $200 a week would be double the amount a nanny would earn in Indonesia, the submission says.
The Abbott government has flagged substantial changes to childcare funding and has asked the Productivity Commission to make recommendations on how the system could be improved. It has received hundreds of submissions, many calling for an overhaul of childcare subsidies.
The commission will consider whether those using nannies should be entitled to government support. A submission by the home service and family care agency, Dial-An-Angel, recommends childcare subsidies be extended to all registered carers including nannies. There have also been calls for nanny fees to be tax deductible. However, many childcare experts are opposed to subsidising nannies because it is likely to deliver disproportionate benefits to wealthy families and reduce the quality of childcare.
The Indonesia Institute says allowing nannies from Asian countries to work in Australia would create a sustainable new source of funds to assist developing nations in the region. “Indonesian expatriate carers typically return to Indonesia with sufficient funds to purchase property or set themselves up in business,” the submission says.
The institute claims the scheme would also strengthen ties and promote greater understanding between Australia and neighbouring countries.
Ross Taylor, the president of the Indonesia Institute, said there were thousands of well-trained, English-speaking au pair staff in the Philippines and Indonesia who would jump at the chance to work in Australia with families if immigration rules allowed it.
“A predominant theme in discussion about the Asian century has been the free movement of goods and services between countries but we believe there is also an opportunity to increase the movement of people,” he said.
The Productivity Commission is due to release a draft report on childcare in July.
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/national/call-for-asian-nannies-to-reduce-childcare-costs-20140328-35oln.html#ixzz2yLR1RiTS
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