Childcare fees hit families

Some Griffith mothers cannot afford to return to work due to the high cost of childcare.

Griffith Women's Refuge manager Yvonne Wilson said she had spoken to numerous women who said it didn't make sense financially to return to work.

Ms Wilson said once women took into consideration the cost of childcare, petrol to and from work or the cost of taxis and other expenses such as clothes for work, some women were effectively working for about $3 an hour.

"Women are saying there are no incentives for them to stop receiving the sole parent benefit because they can't afford to," Ms Wilson said.

Worryingly, she said women who did return to work were forced to rely on people they may not know very well to care for their children, or in some cases women said they had no choice but to leave their young children at home alone.

"We do know for a fact that children are left at home alone out of necessity," Ms Wilson said.

She said the cost of childcare had slowly risen and things had become harder for working mums in recent years.

"I think it's getting harder but it's been extremely difficult, I would say for the last four or five years," she said.

"The (childcare) places are not there and it's a huge amount of money that they have to pay at daycare or preschool."

Ms Wilson's comments come as a National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM) and AMP reports say mothers are losing around 60 per cent of their gross income when they return to work.

The research found mothers on the minimum wage may only keep a fraction of their earnings, with some effectively working for just $3.50 an hour. Federal Member for Riverina Michael McCormack said he hoped a report to be handed down by the Productivity Commission would make childcare more affordable, flexible and accessible.

"It is tough on them," Mr McCormack said.

He said childcare fees increased by more than 50 per cent when Labor was in office.

Mr McCormack said the report would help the government to formulate policies needed to help families cope with the rising costs of childcare.

"We can do better and that's why we've got this report," he said.