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Businesses launch push for free childcare

More than 50 small businesses have demanded permanent free childcare to help stimulate economic growth during the coronavirus recession.

The Morrison government made child care free at the onset of the pandemic as businesses shut down, throwing large swathes of people out of work.

While the measure has been temporarily resurrected during Melbourne’s extreme six-week lockdown, the rest of the country has returned to paying.

Dee Behan, a co-founder of women’s co-working space Frankly Co, believes the pandemic has put a spotlight on childcare.

“The cost of childcare is so high in Australia that it is a real barrier for parents like me who run their own businesses,” she said.

The devastating economic impact caused by COVID-19 has just exacerbated how unaffordable it is, while simultaneously proving how invaluable and essential it is.”

Women’s ride-sharing service Shebah is also one of the founding businesses behind the push.

“We shouldn’t be making money out of our children. It’s time for the government to pay up and make childcare free for good, and for all,” chief executive Georgina McEncroe said.

A range of businesses across diverse sectors including finance, legal, health and home design have joined the push.

Parent advocacy group The Parenthood chief executive Georgie Dent said the campaign highlighted real-life examples of the issue.

“Australian families have never struggled with the cost of early childhood education and care as much as they are now,” she said.

“For women like Dee and those involved in Make It Free, it’s crippling and will compromise their ability to get their businesses back on track.”

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