Amidst the blood bath of proposals, insults, fake news, corruption and propaganda that has become of this national election, we found ourselves thinking, what if we as parents, had to be given the power to change something in Malta? Or even better, more than one thing alone?
Let us allow ourselves to dream. Let us assume that the government that will be elected on the 3rd of June will have good intentions and our best interest at heart. What issues do we want to address, that have not already been discussed?
Some pertinent issues immediately come to mind and I am listing them below.
- Restoration of our pavements in Malta and Gozo.
There is a reason why us Maltese people are so ‘lazy’, wanting to park right in front of our destination. It is not because we all dislike walking, but because more often than not, we are risking our own and our children’s lives when we have to walk more than a few metres. Why? Because our pavements are a TOTAL DISGRACE. I always knew this was a fact but once I had children of my own and tried to be mobile with a pushchair it was literally impossible.
And it is not only people who need a wide and smooth space because of wheelchairs or pushchairs, it is extremely dangerous for pedestrians too. Case in point the woman who had to give up her dancing passion because of a fall she encountered due to an uneven surface on a pavement. It angers me how we spend so many millions on regenerating roads and nothing is done to fix pavements which, long-term which will help reduce traffic because it will encourage more people to use public transport or to park far away from their destination.
2. Improving toilet facilities in all establishments
Something really needs to be done about this. It is disgusting to me that an establishment could have all the bells and whistles on the outside whilst when one enters the toilet area, it either has a problem with the flushing, no toilet paper, no soap, and sometimes even no water! Seriously does it take much for establishments to promote pure, basic hygiene? I believe the authorities should really crack down on this issue not only in public areas but also private establishments where I believe there are big problems.
3. Nappy Changing Facilities.
Whilst we are on the subject of hygiene, what about the issue of nappy changing facilities? It is amazing how even in places that are promoted as ‘child-friendly’ lack basic nappy changing facilities. What are us parents supposed to do? Change our baby’s nappy on our table whilst we are dining? This is something that can be easily regulated however nothing has been done so far.
4. The state of our playgrounds
Hands up if any of you have come across flooring which is uneven in a playground recently. Or a sharp shard of wood jutting out of a supposedly safe play area. It baffles me how we can be so blind to basic safety hazards. If a playground needs to be restored, then close it temporarily! Do not leave it open for kids to risk hurting themselves!
5. Food offered at Family Parks
Why does it always have to be junk and processed food that is offered at Family establishments? Yes I know that kids are drawn to this food and we, as parents are the first to admit this. However would it be too much to ask if ‘healthy’ alternatives like brown bread sandwiches and healthy snacks are offered too?
6. Discounted/Free child care in summer and holidays for kids that are too old to attend nursery.
The free childcare scheme is great, for parents of kids aged 3 years and under that is. For parents of children aged 3 and over, they are left wondering how they are going to work full-time whilst their kids are on Mid Term/ Easter/ Christmas/ Summer holidays. I am aware that there exist some government entities that cater for this need however a scheme, similar to the current childcare scheme that offers subsidized or free care to older children during these times in all approved centres would make a lot of sense.
7. Strict monitoring and regulation of Child Care Centres
Staying on the subject of free child care, the more this sector grows, the more potential for abuse there is. Giving free childcare to ALL is great however strict monitoring and regulatory systems must be in place in order to ensure children are adequately supervised, engaged and taken well care of.
Teaching, as a profession is undermined locally, however people tend to forget that teachers are those who spend A LOT of one-to-one time with OUR children. They should be respected, paid well, trained and monitored on an ongoing basis in order to give the best possible learning experience to our children and the future of our society.
9. More support to single parents
Raising a kid as one half of a couple is tough enough, let alone trying do it all alone. We want to see more measures that aim to support and help single parents (the majority of which are women) to provide for and raise their children.
10. Stiffer laws on Pedophilia and child abuse
For the safety of our children, names of pedophiles should be available to the public in Malta through a child sex offenders list and sentences should also be made harsher.
11. More family-friendly employment measures
People need to accept the fact that more and more women are working, meaning, unless we want women to stop having children (which would lead to even more of an ageing population, hence an economic disaster for all) we need to support and encourage women who work, to also be able to care for their children. Paternity leave measures to help split the caring responsibility on both parents, sick leave allowance for both parents for when children are sick and flexible/ remote working arrangements where possible. There are some companies that are already investing in these measures but it is up to the government to push and incentivize more and more companies to support family-friendly measures.