Ease of access to childcare support for mothers with cancer

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This petition asks to reverse the change in procedure that has mothers with cancer burdened with paperwork and waiting times to access immediate childcare support.

When you have small children and are diagnosed with cancer, your world collapses with worry. You have to immediately balance taking care of yourself with taking best care of your children. Access to childcare is essential, yet when you are in treatment - it's unaffordable! The new changes to childcare mean that women who could access a special child care benefit for up to 13 weeks (note that this is only a small proportion of the year so only covers your worst periods of treatment) are now NOT ABLE to access this directly through their childcare centre as they previously did. It is now a long process requiring substantially more documentation and taking a lot more time to approve - right when you are very sick and overwhelmed! Women are on the cancer forums in dire straits because of this backward change to the process. "they are demanding documents to prove financial stress e.g Petrol receipts, parking fees, specialist bills etc which is ridiculous because who has the time to keep track of those things when you are battling cancer!"

My story

For me, my son was 6 weeks old when I was diagnosed at 39 years old with an aggressive from of breast cancer requiring 6 months of chemotherapy, a double mastectomy, 25 rounds of radiation, a hysterectomy and 6 additional months of oral chemotherapy. I run a social enterprise and worked mostly throughout - paying my bills and contributing to tax. 

Despite this, it was impossible to work at all times and treatment meant lots of appointments and sitting/recovering in hospitals. Without childcare it would have been impossible. I visited Centrelink who guided me to a form called, "Special Childcare Benefit - Children at Risk of Harm or Neglect". I walked out in tears - the only help I could get was if I signed a document and got social workers to write letters saying my child was "at risk of harm or neglect". I couldn't do it.

It wasn't until 4 months in to treatment when I was so sick from chemotherapy and my son was 5 months old that I walked in to a child care centre. The Manager then told me what Centrelink had not - that they could manage the process for me - for up to 13 weeks. I could have hugged her. I sent the letters from my Oncologist and my Surgeon and they completed the application for me and my son was able to go to childcare full time. It was an immense help and my son thrived in that environment doing activities that I didn't have the energy to do.

The ladies who need this now

Now I find that mothers with cancer are being burdened with paperwork and long wait times (some have been waiting 12 weeks) to find out whether they are approved. Some write of being denied access. They are stressed when they should be resting and recovering.

Cancer doesn't discriminate and neither should we when it comes to providing mothers with cancer with the support they need during treatment.

Please consider signing this petition to reverse the change in procedure so that mothers with cancer can know that their children are well taken care of in the hardest times. It may have seemed like a simple cost saving to the Government but it's a huge cost to mothers with cancer.