Migrant nannies and migrant grannies: New migration pathways and in-home childcare in Australia

Stream: Early childhood
Date: Wednesday, 11 September 2019
Time: 1.25 pm – 2.25 pm

Abstract

Social changes, including increases in maternal and non-standard employment, are changing the face of the early childhood education and care (ECEC) debate in Australia. Barriers in the formal ECEC system, including lack of affordability, availability and flexibility, have meant that many families are turning their attention to informal forms of childcare provision. In recent times, the Australian Government has introduced two policies that rely on migration as a source of informal or semi-formal childcare: specific visas or visa rules for migrant nannies (au pairs) and migrant grandparents. According to policymakers, these two changes are being introduced specifically to alleviate the pressures on working families, creating more flexible options to meet families’ childcare needs. Drawing on a critical discourse analysis of Australian policy and media documents, this paper will trace how policies concerning migrant nannies and grannies have been framed. The paper identifies dominant policy discourses on the introduction of specific visa rules for migrant nannies and grannies, and what is absent from these debates (such as early childhood education), drawing out areas of commonality and difference including the ways in which their position at different ends of the lifecourse shapes the debates. It draws attention to the conflict in policy discourse, between supporting families and meeting childcare needs on the one hand, and migration regulation on the other, which can in fact undermine family and care relationships. The paper concludes by examining the potential implications of these conflicting policy discourses for migrant nannies, migrant grandparents, and families with children.

Authors

Myra Hamilton (Presenter), Social Policy Research Centre, and Australian Human Rights Institute, University of New South Wales
Dr Myra Hamilton is a Senior Research Fellow at the Social Policy Research Centre at the University of New South Wales, Australia. She also leads the Gender Justice research programme at the Australian Human Rights Institute at UNSW. Her research focus is care and the life course and her subjects of publication are the ways families organise the provision of unpaid care, the effects that unpaid care provision has on wellbeing, participation in paid work, education, and retirement incomes, and care services and the care workforce.

Elizabeth Adamson, Social Policy Research Centre, and Australian Human Rights Institute, University of New South Wales
Elizabeth Adamson is a Research Fellow at the Social Policy Research Centre (SPRC),
University of New South Wales, Australia. Her research interests cross broad comparative
care and family policy including: early childhood education and care (ECEC), the social
and political economy of formal and informal care, and gender, migration and care.
She is the author of Nannies, Migration and Early Childhood Education and Care: An
International Comparison of In-Home Childcare Policy and Practice (Policy Press, 2016).

Angela Kintominas, Social Policy Research Centre, and Australian Human Rights Institute, University of New South Wales
Angela Kintominas is a Scientia PhD Scholar at UNSW Sydney. Her research interests are in the intersections of gender, labour and socio-economic rights, and migration. Her work is informed by feminist, socio-legal and interdisciplinary approaches to law. She is a Teaching Fellow at UNSW Law and a Research Associate with the Social Policy Research Centre and the Migrant Worker Justice Initiative. Angela tweets @akintominas.