WEL NSW Election Campaign
The NSW election is on Saturday 25 March. As with all elections, WEL will be holding the three main political parties to account for the policies they are proposing to achieve genuine gender equality.
Watch out for our policy release next Wednesday on 8 March, International Women’s Day. It will set out the key policy initiatives that we believe matter for women in this election.
To help guide your vote, WEL will release our scorecard on the major parties’ policies for women’s equality on 15 March. See how the parties stack up!
Our policies and scorecard will cover:
- Domestic and Family Violence;
- Affordable Housing and Homelessness;
- Women’s Health;
- Early Childhood Education and Care;
- Respectful Relationships and Consent Education and
- Women’s Political Representation
International Women’s Day
Gather behind the WEL banner for the International Women’s Day March on Saturday 11 March starting from the Sydney Town Hall at 11am.
We are especially excited to be joined by supporters from the Women Life Freedom movement to stand in solidarity with the women in Iran.
IWD has its roots in and draws life from women’s struggles for justice and equality around the world - struggles against patriarchal violence, for rights to political representation, education and work, sexual autonomy and reproductive rights, and even the right to speak.
WEL has been busy…
The Federal Government continues to set a cracking pace on fulfilling its election policy commitments to women.
We made a submission to the Senate Community Affairs References Committee Inquiry into Universal Access to Reproductive Healthcare.
We made a submission on Paid Parental Leave Amendment (Improvements for Families and Gender Equality Bill 2022).
WEL is pleased to see that the 20 weeks paid parental leave provided in this Bill will give Australian parents an extra two weeks. We note that the Minister has committed to additional legislation in July 2024, which will progressively increase the scheme by six weeks until it reaches 26 weeks (or six months) by 2026.
We are disappointed that such a gradual and piecemeal commitment leaves attainment of the OECD 12 month (55 weeks) benchmark for paid parental leave as a distant prospect, stretching into the next decade.
WEL’s 2022 Federal Election policy called on parties to commit to 12 months paid parental leave shared between parents and to legislate flexible work and leave provisions for parents and caregivers.
We would like to see a stronger government commitment and timetable for provision of 12 months paid parental leave, well before the end of the decade.
Our submission also called for superannuation to be paid on Paid Parental Leave as a matter of urgency.
Early Childhood Education and Care
Following the commencement of cheaper childcare fees on 3 July the Federal Government is also proceeding to implement major commitments on Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) including developing a Commonwealth Whole of Government Early Years Strategy. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is conducting a Childcare Price Inquiry and National Cabinet has asked Education and Early Years Minister to develop a long-term vision for ECEC.
The Treasurer has instigated a Productivity Commission Inquiry into the ECEC sector in Australia. See the Terms of Reference here.
Professor Deborah Brennan has been appointed to lead the productivity Commission Inquiry. Professor Brennan is an expert in childcare policy and a feminist scholar of long standing with the clarity and authority to see beyond the myriad special interests that characterise Australia’s chaotic childcare ‘market’. Consistent with WEL policy we were delighted to see that the terms of reference include: ‘the operation and adequacy of the market, including types of care and the roles of for-profit and not-for-profit providers, and the appropriate role for government’.
Family Law Amendment Bill
In 2006 the Howard Government introduced shared parenting provisions into the Family Law Act. Since then many women have been pressured into agreeing to abusive men having equal time with their child, despite being exposed to violence and abuse – a result that puts children at risk and arguably has cost the lives of some children.
The draft Family Law Amendment Bill 2023 aims to repeal the presumption of 'equal shared parental responsibility' and the requirement for the Court to consider whether to make an order for the child to spend equal time or substantial and significant time with each parent where the parents have equal shared parental responsibility.
In the words of Women’s Legal Services Australia: ‘Removing the presumption of ‘equal shared parental responsibility’ will stop perpetrators using the family law system and parenting arrangements to prolong conflict and coercive control behaviour over shared decision-making. Importantly, this reform will focus decision-making about parenting arrangements on what is in the best interests of children’.
Led by the National Council for Single Mothers and their Children, many feminist organisations and advocacy groups – including WEL– have fought to remove the ‘presumption of shared care’. This Bill is a significant victory for this long campaign.
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