Fears as free childcare nears its end
Millions of Australians are anxiously waiting to see if the Federal Government will extend free childcare beyond June and help save them many hundreds of dollars a week.
Since April parents have been able to lessen the financial pain of paying for childcare, which remains one of the biggest cost burdens on working Australians.
The temporary measure was only ever designed to be rolled out for the short-term, with childcare staff wages also supplemented by the government's $1500 JobKeeper payment.
Mother-of-two Emilia Rossi, 37, who is on maternity leave from her part-time role as a market strategist, said the high costs of childcare affected her weekly budget.
Her son Hercule, 2, goes to childcare three days a week, usually costing Ms Rossi $90 in out-of-pocket expenses a day.
"It's a bonus to have free childcare, the savings we are making we're putting into our mortgage offset account and we're not spending it," Ms Rossi said.
"I don't feel like this will be a long-term situation but it will disrupt the childcare system because we can test to see if this is viable and sustainable for the childcare centres as well."
The costs of child care vary depending on whether or not parents are eligible for the Child Care Subsidy, which reduces the costs outlaid.
Super fund HESTA has 860,000 members including 80 per cent women, and chief executive officer Debby Blakey said now was an important time to reassess childcare costs.
"We shouldn't miss the opportunity to reform the childcare system, it's so critically important to boosting women's participation in the workforce and ultimately their retirement incomes," she said.
"In Australia women still retire with about 40 per cent less than men."
Latest data from the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia showed many people will retire with little or no superannuation at all.
Australians aged between 60-64 are retiring with a median balance of $154,450 for males and $122,850 for females.
The analysis shows to obtain a comfortable retirement couples need $640,000 at retirement and singles need $545,000.
This presumes they own their home outright, have good health and are able to receive a part pension.
Financial comparison website's RateCity's spokeswoman, Sally Tindall, said parents should reassess their financial statuses to plan for when childcare costs return.
"Find out what assistance you're eligible for and, if necessary, update your family income with Centrelink so you can get access to as much assistance as possible," she said.
"It's also worth talking to your childcare centre about any financial problems you're facing.
"Some day cares can offer shorter days at a reduced cost."
Originally published as Fears as free childcare nears its end