Gender equality is pivotal to Australia’s progress: socially, morally and economically. We must, as a matter of urgency, materially address this issue. That’s why my Equality Policy Pillar is so important.
What does my Equality Policy Pillar include?
- Implement the further recommendations of the [email protected] Report into sexual harassment and gender safety in the workplace, requiring employers to be accountable for a safe environment.
- Upgrade and mandate programs to prevent violence and discrimination against women and work with state governments to create national consistency.
- Create a means to value the care economy
- Take concrete steps to create an Australia where First Nations people and their children have the same opportunities as non-Indigenous Australians
- Engage directly with and listen carefully to culturally diverse communities to create genuine equal opportunity
- The rights, safety and equality of LGBTQI+ people must be protected and promoted.
The place of women and girls in our society is a critical policy issue for government.
Gender inequality was entrenched pre-pandemic, but COVID has exposed the depth and gravity of women’s exclusion and inequality in economic terms. There’s an urgent need for structural change with a gendered lens.
Tinkering around the edges won’t fix anything.
During the pandemic we were asked to thank and cheer for our frontline workers, yet nothing has been done to solve the structural inequality and lack of respect for feminised work. Australia’s frontline care workers are disproportionately women. Unpaid domestic responsibilities have overwhelmingly fallen to women. The most significant job losses and reduction in hours and entitlements have occurred in sectors which employ women.
And while female employment is said to be showing rapid recovery, this does not reflect the fragmented, casualised nature of women’s paid work as they juggle unpaid caring roles.
Family and domestic violence hurts women the most.
Even the Australian parliament is not a safe workplace for women.
Across the spectrum of gender equality issues, there is an urgent need for change.
And change is in everyone’s interest. Change will not only benefit women, children and families, it will also boost our economy and reduce costs related to a multitude of social harms. The benefits will be shared by all Australians.
Our nation will be healthier, safer, stronger and more prosperous with a government that acts on this.
Once a leader on gender equality, Australia has gone backwards since 2013.
- In 2014, the World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap index placed Australia in 24th place overall.
- By 2021, Australia had fallen to 50th place out of 156 countries.
- While Australia is ranked equal 1st in the world for women’s education, we fall to a dismal 70th when it comes to their economic participation and opportunity.
- Women’s economic participation represents the most effective means of growing the economy.
- Economic modelling by KPMG shows that halving the workforce participation gap between men and women would increase Australia’s annual GDP by $60 billion by 2038.
We cannot continue to waste this investment in education.
To reverse this trajectory, we must harness Australia’s full potential, respect women in the workplace, have women leaders at every decision-making table and place care at the centre of our economy. Our women and girls must be fully enabled to reach their full potential.
I endorse the 5 asks proposed by Chief Executive Women as election priorities.
“An incremental response from government and business is just not going to cut it. We need wholesale immediate change. We need accessible early childhood education and care, government leadership on paid parental leave and superannuation. We need secure, well-paid jobs and careers in the care industries. And we need respect at work for all. There is simply no excuse now not to engage head on with the adoption and acceptance of these fundamental commitments. This is what it means to link the foundational infrastructure of a care economy to our future national and economic success.”
Sam Mostyn AO, President, Chief Executive Women – National Press Club address, November 2021
The Care Economy
The pandemic has exposed our lack of investment in the social infrastructure crucial to a strong economy and society. While the care sector, largely powered by women, has been the safety net of the economy; this sector has been widely undervalued.
“Leveraging women’s participation and leadership is one pf the most effective actions for business and government to boost the Australian economy. We need to change the way we think about what drives our economy – we need to invest in our people and place care at the centre.”
Sam Mostyn AO, President, Chief Executive Women
If elected, I will push for the following changes:
- Invest in well-paid, secure jobs in health, education and care industries including early childhood education and care (ECEC), aged care, disability care
- Make quality early childhood education and care (ECEC) accessible and affordable delivered by a well-supported and properly funded workforce
- Build towards universal access for all children to quality, flexible ECEC; beginning with a minimum three days of ECEC from when families need it, until children start school and delivered by a well-supported and properly funded workforce
- Expand the Commonwealth Paid Parental Leave scheme for all parents to 26 weeks immediately, including components that encourage greater shared caregiving by both parents. (88% of parental leave is taken by women).
- Build this towards one year of government-funded Paid Parental Leave to be shared between parents or carers, at full pay including super (in line with the OECD average).
- Extend the superannuation guarantee to the Commonwealth PPL scheme to help reduce the superannuation gap between women and men at retirement
- Implement in full all 55 recommendations of the Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner’s [email protected] report, particularly a positive duty for employers under the Sex Discrimination Act
- Implement the recommendations of the Set The Standard report on behaviour in parliament
- Include 10 days of paid family and domestic violence leave in the National Employment Standards
- Invest in crisis housing for older women and people experiencing family and domestic violence (women over 55 are the fastest growing group to experience homelessness in Australia)
Violence against women
Violence against women in Australia is a national emergency.
The release of the draft National Plan to End Violence Against Women in January 2022 was hotly anticipated and, sadly, woefully necessary. More than a decade after the historic launch of the first National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and Their Children by the Gillard government in 2011, rates of violence remain far too high. In fact, they have barely changed since the launch of the first plan – rates of domestic violence remain stable and rates of sexual violence have increased.
The statistics represent a tragic state of affairs in regard to women’s safety in Australia:
- 1 in 4 women over the age of 15 has experienced intimate partner violence
- 1 in 2 women have experienced sexual harassment in their lifetime
- 1 in 2 have experienced violence by a partner, other known person or a stranger
- 1 in 4 have experienced emotional abuse by a current or former partner
- 1 in 5 women have experienced sexual violence
- Women with disability across Australia experience significantly higher levels of all forms of violence, for example 9 in 10 women with intellectual disability report experiencing sexual assault.
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are 32 times more likely to be hospitalised and 11 times more likely to die due to assault.
The sense of urgency to tackle the national scourge that is violence against women is clear.
We stand at this moment at a crossroads — quite literally with the prospect of a new National Plan that will guide the next decade of work and funding in this policy area that is, for too many women in Australia, still a matter of life and death.
It is, therefore, imperative that the next National Plan deliver the kind of national, coordinated leadership, particularly at the Federal level, that is needed. And that this happen alongside a more effective evaluation and accountability framework and, importantly, investment in terms of long-term sustainable funding that is truly equal to the scale of the challenge.
With that in mind, the final National Plan must:
- Include clearer actions and targets, alongside a credible, independent evaluation mechanism to ensure that those targets are met and the investment in the next National Plan is directed into effective, evidence-based programs.
- A more robust analysis of why the first National Plan failed to achieve the single measure for success it set itself in the very first pages of the first National Plan: to see a sustained reduction to rates of violence against women.
- The release of the consultation reports completed by Monash University that underpin the draft plan, so experts, victims and the public can gauge the extent to which the National Plan matches the expert advice of the more than 500 individuals gathered over those 18 months. The fact that this didn’t happen alongside the release of the Draft National Plan is a deeply worrying lack of attention to transparency and deeply disrespectful to those who contributed in good faith.
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have consistently advocated for a dedicated National Plan to eliminate violence family violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, most notably via a Change the Record open letter in October of last year . The Draft National Plan does not offer this.
- Finally, there must be appropriate funding for all actions under the plan.