This Budget is an opportunity to make smart investments that remove structural barriers to women’s full participation in the workforce and unlock greater productivity in the Australian economy.
The 2021/2022 Federal Budget is an opportunity to lift the economic security and safety of women by;
● Reinstating the Women’s Budget Statement and ensuring:
o It is integrated with gender-responsive budgeting during budget planning cycles;
o It covers expenditure across all Government Departments;
o It is prepared independently by the Parliamentary Budget Office and with input from the women’s sector.
● Investing in and reforming early childhood education:
o Work to the goal of universal access to quality early childhood education and care;
o A first step should be to change the taper rates and per child cap to remove disincentives to increase women’s workforce participation, and address supply side constraints;
o Improved secure funding for the workforce that ensures the attraction and retention of highly skilled, better paid educators in secure employment.
● Building on the Federal Government’s most recent amendments to paid parental leave by expanding the Government’s Paid Parental Leave Scheme to 26 weeks, flexibly shared by both parents, and providing an additional two weeks leave for each parent when care is equally shared.
● Provide new and adequate funding for domestic, family and sexual violence services, as well as funding for improved prevention of gendered violence, an accountability mechanism and law reform.
● Adequately funding aged care and addressing workforce issues including the undervaluation of the predominantly female workforce skills and pay, improved training and staff toresident ratios.
Investments in childcare, paid parental leave and a focus on reducing precarious underemployment for women in the economy are the most effective ways for building a strong economy.
At a time when we must prevent and reduce violence against women and ensure safe workplaces for all, it has never been more important than now to act.
In addition to the 2021/2022 Federal Budget, the safety and economic security of all women can be strengthened by:
● Supporting paid domestic and family violence leave for all workers, with a goal to work towards 10 days.
● Ensuring sexual violence is always included in the definition of family and domestic violence, in legislation, policies and the National Action Plan.
● Continue to implement the recommendations in the Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner’s Respect@Work report to address workplace sexual harassment with priority to:
● Stronger work health and safety laws including a model regulation to make sure that employers are obliged to tackle the underlying causes of sexual harassment at work.
● Better access to justice for workers in our workplace laws by prohibiting sexual harassment in the Fair Work Act and providing a quick, easy, new complaints process.
● Stronger powers for the Sex Discrimination Commissioner to investigate, at her initiative, industries and workplaces which are rife with sexual harassment, and positive duties on employers to take steps to eliminate sexual harassment.
At CEW we believe that women leaders should be at the tables where the decisions are being made, economic and social, not just for us but for all women and communities across the country.
Executive Director, The Parenthood
President, Australian Council of Trade Unions
Jennifer Westacott AO
CEO, Business Council of Australia
Wendy McCarthy AO
Past President, Chief Executive Women
Sam Mostyn AO
President, Chief Executive Women
Deputy Chair, Goodstart Early Learning