At the height of the coronavirus-enforced lockdown, the terms "corona babies" and "quaranteens" entered our vernacular.
While seemingly innocuous, the probability of a new baby boom had new life breathed into it this week by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, who made an off-hand comment about the potential for the next generation to help navigate Australia out of the economic impacts of COVID-19.
His words, a kind of "take one for the country" plea to women, is in stark contrast to the actions of the federal government, who have provided minimal policies or measures to support families.
Granted, during the height of the pandemic, the government did swiftly announce free childcare to help families navigate COVID-related job losses or reduced hours. But the policy was narrow-minded in that it only helped families, not the early childhood educators or centres who were bolstered by a large casual workforce.
It also decided to pull the JobKeeper rug out from under the feet of the childcare sector, and took away its eligibility for the payment, before it had done so for any other industry. As we move forward and focus on economic recovery, now is the right time to hit the reset button on many of the longstanding policies to create a better family system.
In other news:
A childcare subsidy system, which is a lifeline for many families, and the only reason many can return to work at all, has often been described as unwieldy and hard to navigate. Flexibility needs to be at the heart of the culture and management of every workplace. That flexibility will allow families to transition (there and back again) between the pillars of parenthood and the workforce. It's up to the government to demonstrate the standard to employers.
Acknowledgement that paid parental leave is critical for both mothers and fathers will also go a long way to bridging gaps such as the gender pay gap and the lack of women in senior executive leadership positions.
If children are the future, then now is the time to make those changes and embed children into the centre of policy-decision-making and be bold to make changes where they are needed most.