Tuesday, April 19, 2005

ON ACCESS TO CHILDCARE

Some refugees live in their own little worlds; doing the daily battle for survival. But the outlook for the African families in Australia is becoming a lot more complicated.

For one thing, the new migrants and refugees constantly battle the deep feelings of guilt over leaving their sweet little children in the care of strangers. But, in practice, they have absolutely no choice if they have to work outside the home for the much needed residual income.

Childcare is an enormous problem for the new arrivals simply because many Childcare Centres are full, especially in the city. Besides, childcare practices are culturally different in Australia than they are in most countries of Africa.

And parents have problems understanding the procedures in the childcare centres since a significant number do not speak English. They have difficulty communicating with childcare staff (about their specific needs).

Nor do they understand the culture. Nor time management. Nor the bureaucratic demands of some of the childcare establishments.

Furthermore, the high cost of childcare is beyond the reach of people on low income. Consequently, most young families have been priced out of the market.

Yet, there are other problems. The tyranny of distance makes traveling difficult for those young mothers who do not have cars. But are forced to rely solely on public transport to get to the childcare centres, far away from home, in the outer metropolitan areas.

Thus, for the newly arrived migrants and refugees, access to childcare has become an expensive proposition; with no viable options in sight.
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