Cops leave jobs due to lack of flexible childcare

A LACK of flexible childcare in regional areas is causing police officers to leave full-time, front-line work, particularly in smaller communities, the head of the Police Federation of Australia said on Tuesday.

The Police Federation is one of a raft of groups that has sent a submission in to a Productivity Commission inquiry on childcare.

The federation's chief executive Mark Burgess told APN Newsdesk the biggest issues for policing families in regional areas was how flexible, affordable and accessible childcare was outside the big cities.

The federation represents Australia's 57,000 police officers, almost 99% of all policemen and women in the country - many of whom work long hours in regional towns.

He said the "24/7 nature of the job" was playing havoc with policing families trying to fit their children into care, which mainly offered help only during nine-to-five hours.

"Of course, that's all the more difficult in regional areas, because access to childcare is far more difficult and police often get posted long distances from their families, so they don't have that extra support network there," he said.

Mr Burgess said the issue was more complex for female officers, who are particularly leaving full-time front-line roles for more predictable work hours or part-time arrangements due to the lack of flexible childcare.

Analysis of part-time work figures by the police federation found that about 8% of police officers work part-time, but more than 70% of those part-time workers were women, many of whom were parents.

"Losing them from the job is one part, but another part is that there's a lot of money invested in training our people," he said.

"The reality is that if we could offer them better arrangements for childcare, there's greater chance we could keep these trained officers in a front-line area, rather than losing them to more predictable desk jobs."

Mr Burgess said while policing families were particularly under pressure due to the lack of childcare, many emergency services families suffered from similar problems.

"It's not just police, there's a lot of emergency services workers, particularly in regional areas, where they can't just knock off at a certain time, if they're responding to a situation far from home," he said.

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