Addressing gender inequality is a mainstream economic and workforce development issue that should be a key economic reform priority for the coming decade. We look at the policies of Labor and set them alongside the track-record of the Coalition for you to consider before you cast your vote on May 18.
The ALP’s plan includes commitments to:
- A national strategy for gender equality;
- Strengthening the ability of the Fair Work Commission to order pay increases for workers in female-dominated industries such as early childhood education, aged care, and disability services;
- Restoring cuts to penalty rates, which disproportionately impact women on low incomes;
- Investing more than $400 million in measures that will boost women’s superannuation, including paying superannuation on Commonwealth Paid Parental Leave for the first time;
- Legislating for 10 days paid domestic violence leave in the National Employment Standards;
- Deliver Australia’s first ever National Sexual and Reproductive Health Strategy to make sure all Australian women can access legal, safe and affordable reproductive health services, including terminations, in public hospitals;
- Deliver $95 million investment in women’s sport including $20 million to Netball Australia to help fund grass roots participation and more than $75 million to community sporting clubs to provide change rooms and facilities for women and girls;
- Support women in trades and training by reserving half of Labor’s 100,000 fee-free TAFE places for women;
- Invest an extra $19.5 million in programs to provide intensive in-school mentoring for thousands of First Nations girls and young women;
- Meet our 50:50 target for representation of women on government boards within the first term of government and set targets to boost women’s representation in senior public service roles;
- Restore the Time Use Survey so we can better value women’s unpaid work; acknowledge its economic importance and drive better policy making; and
- Establish a new framework for gender responsive policy development and decision-making, including restoring the annual Women’s Budget Statement.
In the last week, the ALP has made policy announcements on the issue of gender equality and family violence. The key features of the announcements are as follows:
- Gender equality
Labor will ban pay secrecy clauses, make company gender pay gap reporting public and transparent, ensure pay equity in the public service, increase workforce participation and make a range of changes to superannuation to close the retirement savings gap. This is in addition to the already announced commitments to new pay equity principles, the right to request flexible return to work arrangements, a separate Fair Work Commission panel to examine pay equity and moving sexual harassment jurisdiction into the Fair Work Commission.
- Family violence
Consistent with previous announcements, the ALP has committed to introducing 10 days paid family and domestic violence leave in the National Employment Standards.
Further the ALP, today, have announced they will:
- Make the prevention of violence against women and their children a COAG priority;
- Immediately start work on a new 10-year plan to prevent violence against women and their children;
- Invest $60 million in 20,000 Flexible Support Packages of up to $10,000 to support people escaping family violence;
- Double existing funding for refugees and emergency accommodation, with an additional $60 million investment;
- Provide more transitional and affordable housing through Labor’s $88 million Safe Housing Fund and the construction of 250,000 affordable houses;
- Improve legal services through a new $90 million Preventing Family Violence Legal Service Fund;
- Provide $62 million in Local Community Prevention and Front-Line Service Grants; and
- Provide $35 million to support Respectful Relationships Education in schools.
You can read Labor’s Plan for Equality in more detail here.
The Coalition’s plan for supporting Australian women is available here and it incorporates initiatives including:
- A 10-year women in STEM decadal plan commissioned by the Government and undertaken by the Academy of Science;
- Increasing the female employment participation rate which currently sits at 60.5%;
- Changes to superannuation rules, including concessional catch-up contributions, for women who take time away from the workforce for family responsibilities;
- A child care subsidy that came into effect in July 2018 which provides a typical family with assistance of around $1,300;
- $840 million on programs that directly support women and children who are victims of, or at risk of, domestic, family and sexual violence. This includes improvements to frontline services like 1800RESPECT, reforms to the family law system to stop domestic violence victims being cross-examined by perpetrators, $78 million for new emergency shelters for families affected by domestic violence, the introduction of a new minimum standard of 5 days unpaid family and domestic violence leave, changes to the visa system to allow the granting of over 7,046 visas to vulnerable women and children through the Women at Risk program and a new directive to prevent the entry to Australia of people convicted of violent crimes against women or children, regardless of the nation in which the offence occurred or the sentence that was handed down;
- More flexible paid parental leave allowing parents to take 12 weeks paid leave in the first year and the remaining six any time before their child turns two;
- Health care initiatives including $20.5 million for breast care nurses through the McGrath Foundation, funding for a National Action Plan for Endometriosis, $39.5 million to immunise pregnant women against pertussis (whooping cough), listing new diagnostic imaging services on the Medicare Benefits Schedule used in the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer saving patients up to $1,500 per scan, prioritising perinatal mental health with $26.3 million over five years from 2018-19 for a new Perinatal Mental Health and Wellbeing Program and the removal of GST from sanitary items without imposing higher taxes elsewhere; and
- Initiatives in women’s sport including funding of $814,200 in 2019-20 for the Women’s Leadership Development Program and Sport Australia, $150 million to support the development of female change room facilities at sporting grounds and community swimming facilities across Australia, $30 million to support the construction of a new Brisbane Lions Australian Football League Women’s (AFLW) facility in Queensland and to support the redevelopment of Carlton Football Club’s Ikon Park in Victoria and $5 million to support the Football Federation Australia’s (FFA) bid to host the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia.