Survey Results

Child Care & Workforce Participation Annual Survey


For more than 12 years® has been helping Australian families manage the challenge of finding high quality child care where and when they need it.

Every year we run a survey to learn more about the child care situation in Australia on the national level as well as to discover the issues and concerns facing families as they set about securing care at the individual level.

The results of this survey provide valuable information on the state of the Australian child care system and offer some insight into the child care problems being faced by so many families.


This is our tenth annual survey and was completed by 2108 Australians with children in care or considering care. The survey was conducted online in April 2015.


The 'norm'

Our survey shows that most Australian kids in care entered when they were between 7-12 months old and attend for eight hours a day three days a week. Most families use care to attend work (83 per cent) however 10 per cent see child care as a great opportunity for additional social interaction for kids.

It's also the norm in most Australian families for mums to do the majority of the household jobs (53 per cent), with only 32 per cent sharing the load equally.

Is work viable?

With the cost of care on the rise, especially in the city, many families need to do the maths before putting their kids in care. Is working financially viable or would it make more sense for one of the parents to stay home?

So how much does care cost?

You've heard the news and it won't come as any surprise when we tell you child care is expensive! What may come as a surprise is when we tell you exactly how expensive it is.


More than 51 per cent of families who completed this survey now pay more than $300 a week for care.

Rather unsurprising then is the fact that while 75 per cent of you think your provider is excellent, 49 per cent of you would change the cost of care if you had the chance.

Proposed subsidy changes

When asked whether you would be happy with the Productivity Commission's combined child care subsidy (ECLS):

  • 35 per cent said it would not be a good idea
  • 32 per cent said yes to the recommendations
  • 25 per cent needed more information

Should child care be not for profit?

  • 59 per cent don't mind whether child care is private or not for profit
  • 26 per cent say child care should not be profit making
  • 8 per cent saying they don't mind as long as there is no difference in price
  • 7 per cent say competition is good

Which care are you using?

Interestingly, despite the government's recent announcement about a pilot to include nannies as approved (subsidised) care, year-on-year fewer families are using them.

Just 10 per cent of the families which completed this survey are using nannies compared with 11 per cent in 2014 and 13 per cent in 2013. In fact nannies have dropped out of the top five types of care!

Grandparent carers continue to surge in numbers and increased from 16 per cent in 2014 to 22 per cent this year. Maybe the government should consider making them approved carers too!

Balancing life as a working parent

Despite the introduction of paid parental leave a quarter (24 per cent) of parents who took leave to have a baby did so without receiving pay. The most common amount of time people take parental leave was between 9-12 months with 28 per cent of parents returning to work within this time frame.

Balancing life as a working parent is complicated and 54 per cent of you said the hardest thing about returning to work is the sheer grind of organising time and daily logistics. The good news is most employers recognise this burden and 86 per cent of you said your employers was flexible or very flexible in terms of understanding the pressures on working parents.

In addition, working parents are increasingly taking charge of their work/life balance, with 72 per cent of survey respondents saying they had requested to work flexibly and a further 60 per cent having this request approved!


How can the Federal Government best help the child care situation?

  • By making nannies more accessible to working families and included in the rebate.
  • Support award increases for educators - they remain underpaid and undervalued for the high quality of care they overwhelmingly provide. This would increase recognition of the importance of early childhood education as the foundation for future life learning.
  • GO back to the baby bonus - its was fair for everyone and was like being paid a minimum wage anyway. Child care is NOT a privilege. Working mothers SHOULD get priority at all centres. Not who gets on the wait list first. If you don't work you don't really NEED day care do you?
  • Pump more money into child care making it more flexible and accessible. Paid parental leave does not support all families, whereas good child care does
  • Investigate ways to acknowledge the work that many grandparents play in child care.
  • Early child care should be part of the school system. Each primary school should have a daycare and preschool attached, available for free to all parents just like regular schooling.
  • A multi-faceted approach. Flexible working arrangements, funding for choice of child care, better training and quality assurance, better centre design standards
  • Means Test, Means Test, Means Test (I won't necessarily benefit, but it would be for the greater good).
  • They shouldn't make it means tested without taking into account the cost of the care in an area. It is completely absurd to think that in some regional towns where child care costs closer to $60 per day people on the same income as people in Sydney paying $150 per day would get the same rebate.
  • If government is serious about female workforce participation, flexibility is the key. Both parents should be able to access part time working arrangements and have access to quality child care arrangements that suit them.
  • They need to put the $5.5 Billion from scrapped PPL into reducing out of pocket expenses and follow UKs lead and give every child up to 30 hours free child care per week
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