Children left home alone while mums work

Media Releases article written on the 19 Dec 2012

Almost 40 per cent of mums have had to leave their children at home unsupervised, according to new research released today from Oxfam Australia.

The research, commissioned as part of Oxfam’s ‘Keep Them Safe’ appeal also revealed one in ten Australian mums claim to have no one to look after their children in a crisis.

Work commitments and having no one available to take care of their children were two of the main reasons why mums are leaving their kids home alone.

Oxfam Australia Associate Director of International Programs Penny Harrison said the research, involving more than 1000 mums across Australia, highlighted the complex issues many mothers face, both in Australia and overseas.

“We found that more than 60 per cent of Australian mums rely on grandparents and other family members to look after their children in an emergency so the majority do have a support network while many mums living in poverty in South Africa have nothing.

“Thousands of women in South Africa, many of them widowed refugees from war-torn countries, don’t have any choices when it comes to taking care of their children.

“These women need to work to look after their families but can’t afford childcare so they’re often forced to lock their children at home or leave them to roam unsafe streets. As a result, their children are being kidnapped and sexually assaulted,” said Ms Harrison.

When it comes to safety concerns regarding their children, Australian mums are most worried about their kids hurting themselves (39%), followed by abduction (18%), bullying (15%), road accidents (12%), child abuse (9%) and drugs and alcohol (7%).

According to Ms Harrison, these safety concerns are a terrifying reality for women in South Africa.

“Oxfam’s ‘Keep Them Safe’ appeal is all about protecting vulnerable children in South Africa by training refugee women in some of the poorest towns to open their own home-based childcare centres.

“Mothers can then go to work without fearing their children will be abducted, raped or that they might hurt themselves so Australians’ support is vital in ensuring their safety,” she said.

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