“Even though combining work and family for mothers of young children is one of the major social problems being faced by families in the new millennium, we know little about the push and pull factors that influence mother’s decisions about whether or not to work and how they change over time. This project is an Australian first that will enable us to examine one of the most pressing social issues of our time.”    Dr Belinda Hewitt, Project Leader

Why is this information important for government?

For policy makers and employers the important questions are about how to support and enhance mothers’ workforce engagement, especially before their children begin school. Your experiences and opinions are crucial for us to understand how mothers manage work and family, and what supports, services and policies would better help them cope with the modern day pressures of combing work and motherhood.

Why is this information important for the whole of society? 

Engaging mothers in the workforce is essential to both national prosperity and to individual and family well-being. The labour force participation rates of Australian mothers are low by international standards, particularly amongst those with pre-school children, and the majority work part time.

Improving the participation and retention of mothers in the workforce is now at the forefront of the national policy agenda.  A recent Grattan Institute estimate suggests that raising women’s labour force participation could have a pay-off to the Australian economy of $25 billion per year.

At a personal level, most working mothers value their jobs and want to work, but working while caring for young children can confront them with significant trade-offs.  Some mothers who would like to work choose not to, because of these trade-offs.  Enhancing the benefits of working for mothers, while addressing barriers and minimising trade-offs, is essential to supporting the wellbeing of families, mothers and children.

The Millennium Mums project aims to:

  • Document mothers workforce participation before birth and until their child turns 4
  • Understand the factors that influence mothers’ decisions about whether or not to work after birth and when they return work before their child turns 4
  • Assess how different types of childcare arrangements, and mothers’ use of them, affects their workforce engagement during their child’s preschool years
  • Assess which current Australian workplace flexibility arrangements and employer provided leave provisions enhance mothers’ workforce engagement
  • Assess how the quality of jobs, job characteristics and employment relationships (for jobs held before and after the birth) affect mothers’ workforce engagement
  • Provide information to the government agencies responsible for the development and implementation of family policy.