FAMILY FIRST: Karen Simmons with five-month-old Sebastian shares her thoughts on the budget and how it might affect her family.
FAMILY FIRST: Karen Simmons with five-month-old Sebastian shares her thoughts on the budget and how it might affect her family. Chris Ison Rokcbudget

Rocky mums unaware of child care Federal budget changes

IT'S one of the biggest changes announced in this year's Federal Budget, but many aren't aware of the looming adjustments to child care.

The Morning Bulletin spoke to more than a dozen mothers attending yesterday's Octonauts event with their children at the Rockhampton Library.

Not one was aware of the proposed changes to child care and paid parental leave schemes.

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Dubbed "Jobs for Families", the $3.5 billion improvement to the child care system will only be implemented if Parliament passes last year's proposed changes to the Family Tax Benefit.

The proposals include cutting off Part B of the FTB to families once their youngest child turns six.

If passed, this is the change that will affect stay-at-home parent Karen Simmons.

Karen said despite being disadvantaged by the proposed changes to payments, she treated government assistance as a privilege, not a right.

"The hope is that the money goes to where it is really needed," she said.

"I sort of view it all as a bonus, that it is not our right. Because we have a healthy family... we look at it as a nice bonus and we are very grateful."

The investment in child care accompanies changes to paid parental leave, with parents no longer being able to "double dip" on both employer-provided and government-funded leave.

The government's changes in this year's budget are in place to encourage both parents to be part of the workforce.

But for Karen, staying at home to care for her children full-time was the more important choice.

"We have made the decision to not get into big debt with houses and things because Andrew (my husband) and I both had stay-at-home mums," she said.

"Our value system is to be there 100% for the kids. We made a few sacrifices to make sure they get that."

Major changes

Paid Parental Leave

Currently, the government provides 18 weeks to primary care givers earning $150,000 a year or less in addition to the leave provided by employers.

Parents will no longer have access to both.

Jobs for Families package ($3.5 billion)

Streamline child care payments, reduce costs of day care and leave families about $30 a week better off.

An "activity test" will link the amount of subsidised childcare parents can access to hours both parents work/study a fortnight.