CEW Meredith Hellicar

The best way to support women

CEW Member Meredith Hellicar

MEREDITH HELLICAR
CEW Chair,
Business Engagement Committee

DIANE SMITH-GANDER
CEW President

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The best way to support women today is more affordable and accessible quality child care

Chief Executive Women (CEW) supports the general thrust of the Government’s new childcare reforms.

CEW’s position on key issues:

  1. Boosting workforce participation rates of women isn’t a gender issue – it’s an economic issue.
  2. CEW supports:
    1. the concept of a work test but warns that it needs to be applied in such a way as to enable parents who are searching for work to access affordable childcare.
    2. the cap in payments when incomes exceed $185,000 and the safety net for parents with incomes less than $65,000.

The removal of the disincentive for parents with low to middle incomes to increase their working hours is particularly important.

  1. The Government’s $246 million two year pilot program which extends subsidy support to home care by nannies for families has the potential to be a key enabler of greater workforce flexibility, productivity and participation.
  2. The intrinsic value to Australia’s economy of high quality pre-school education (acknowledged by the two year extension of funding to facilitate access of 15 hours a week of pre-school education a year in 2016 and 2017).
  3. The continuation of the Government parental leave payment of $11,500 for an eighteen month period, supplemented by employer contributions wherever possible, is also an important enabler of enhanced workforce participation and of continuity of superannuation contributions to prepare for self-funded retirement. It is disappointing to see this characterized as “double-dipping”: it is a necessary combination of taxpayer and employer ingredients for the sustainability of parents’ working lives. CEW hopes that the Government reviews its stance on this issue to bring it into line with its other policies, which recognize the overall benefits to Australia of bringing into and keeping parents in the workforce.

Chief Executive Women is committed to advancing the economic status of women in Australia, working within the context of our purpose as “Women leaders enabling women leaders”. The Intergenerational Report (2015) argues that Australia’s future prosperity rests on our ability to attract more women into the workforce. Our current workforce participation rate for men rests at 71%, compared to 58.6% for women. According to the Grattan Institute, raising the female participation rate by 6%, to equal that of Canada, will add $25 billion to Australia’s GDP.

(see CEW’s submission to the Productivity Commission on 26 June 2014).

Diane Smith-Gander, CEW President & Meredith Hellicar, CEW Chair, Business Engagement Committee