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CEW welcomes the focus on the care economy and women’s workforce participation in this year’s Federal Budget

Media release: CEW welcomes the focus on the care economy and women’s workforce participation in this year’s Federal Budget

Chief Executive Women (CEW) welcomes Federal Budget measures aimed at unlocking women’s workforce participation to address Australia’s economic challenges by removing barriers for women and families. 

Today’s Federal Government budget has confirmed funding for several of CEW’s policy asks, including: 

  • $1.1 billion over four years from 2024-25 and $623 million per year from 2028-29 to extend paid superannuation to include Commonwealth paid parental leave  
  • Commitment to fund pay increases for aged care and early childhood workers in line with Fair Work Commission processes 
  • $1.6 billion over 11 years to provide paid work placements for teaching, nursing, midwifery and social work students 
  • $925 million over five years to establish the Leaving Violence Program  
  • Adapting the Stage 3 Tax Cuts to address gendered outcomes 
  • To support gender procurement processes, women-owned and led businesses will be able to self-nominate via the Voluntary Commonwealth Supplier Registration process through AusTender 
  • $55.6 million over four years for the Building Women’s Careers program to advance women in key male dominated industries, including construction, clean energy, advanced manufacturing and digital technology 
  • $38.2 million over eight years to support a thriving, skilled and diverse STEM workforce 
  • Delivery of the Working for Women National Strategy 

CEW president Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz said investment in the care economy was a logical budget response that would benefit many Australian families and the economy more broadly. 

“Commitments to continue expanding paid parental leave and to increase pay for our vital care workforces, signals the importance of the care economy to all Australians, both now and in the future,” Ms Lloyd-Hurwitz said. 

For consecutive years, CEW has called for intentional investment in gender equality and women’s workforce participation as the best way to boost productivity and build a modern economy. 

“We know that working women are significantly overrepresented in the care sector, and we also know there are skills shortages in many areas like aged care and early childhood education. The latest budget measures will go some way to improving economic security for women and attract more people to these essential professions,” Ms Lloyd-Hurwitz said. 

CEW research has found that 1 million additional full-time skilled workers could be unlocked in Australia if women were engaged in paid work at the same rate as men. According to Deloitte, $11 billion would be added to Australia’s GDP by increasing women’s working hours by just 2 per cent. 

CEW has also called for Government to relax the Child Care Subsidy Activity Test, increase JobSeeker payments and prioritise women’s safety.  

Ms Lloyd-Hurwitz said “it was disappointing the budget did not act on advice of the Productivity Commission and the ACCC to relax the Child Card Subsidy Activity Test”. 

“10 Government reports in the last four years have told us that the Activity Test is not working, and that the system is overly complex and inoperable for many parents. We continue to call for at least three days of quality early childhood education, regardless of parents’ activity,” she said.  

Research by Impact Economics and Policy found that abolishing the test altogether could increase GDP by up to $4.5 billion a year through increased workforce participation of mothers.   

“An investment in universal access to early childhood education for the benefit of all would unlock an existing workforce, uplift productivity, support families with cost-of-living pressures, and give our children the best start in life,” Ms Lloyd-Hurwitz said. 

“The budget does not comprehensively address the circumstances of women living in poverty in Australia, which is concerning. JobSeeker payments sit below the poverty line at around just 43 per cent of minimum wage, trapping the most vulnerable Australians in poverty instead of enabling them into work. 

“Women’s safety and ability to escape gendered violence is intertwined with their economic security, and we also know that more needs to be done to fund the services supporting women escaping violence. 

“We strongly urge the Government to make these priorities for future policy and budgets.” 

The complete list of CEW’s 2025 budget recommendations can be found here. 

Media contact:

Jesse McCarthy-Price 
M: +61 429 160 550