Government’s response to women’s financial insecurity needs turbo-charging

Sydney – Tuesday 20 November: Women’s Electoral Lobby welcomes Minister for Women Kelly O‘Dwyer’s commitment to women’s financial security, “It is a start, but it falls short on substantially addressing fundamental areas of women’s financial insecurity,” said Philippa Hall, Convenor of WEL NSW. 

Ms Hall viewed positively the Minister’s recognition of a woman’s need for economic equality and security, but urged the Minister and the Morrison Government to adopt a more substantial whole-of-government approach to addressing the significant systemic barriers that contribute to women’s inequality.

“There are serious and immediate unmet needs to respond to women’s financial security in Australia. We recognise that there are some positive signs in women’s participation in the workforce and pay inequality, however realising financial equality for women needs to be turbo-charged if we are all to prosper and live our best lives,” said Ms Hall.

“To this end, we welcome the Government’s funding for reinstatement of the time use survey which will produce the necessary data needed to inform better policy making. We congratulate the Government on their practical initiatives to promote women’s entrepreneurial skills, self-employment and business ideas, and scholarships for the financial and STEM industries to increase participation and longevity in their careers.”

“We also welcome the Minister’s commitment to bringing the business community together in 2019 to identify practical and immediate solutions to pay inequality and access to work. Solutions are already known in key areas of pay inequality and accessibility however adoption by business across all industries is slow or sporadic.”

“Women’s superannuation is a fundamental area of women’s inequality, with a number of systemic barriers still needing immediate attention - especially the $450 threshold for super, and the need for superannuation to be included in parental leave programs. The Minister identified women’s superannuation as key area for Government attention, and we would encourage further work in this area ahead of upcoming budget initiatives.

“Today’s domestic violence measures recognise the financial trauma women are experiencing, yet if we are to address the $22 billion economic impact domestic violence has annually in Australia, more significant measures are needed across all areas of the system.

“We encourage Government to take a second look at two of their initiatives to head off unintended consequences of entrenching financial distress for women fleeing violent circumstances. Women fleeing violent situations should be able to preserve their superannuation savings to build long-term financial security, not have to dip into them as a last resort.

“On the surface it seems like a practical response, however in reality it could be a catch-22 for women to be offered no-interest financial loans in crisis financial circumstances. We can do better than exacerbating women’s financial distress by compounding their inability to repay loans when they are most likely to be dealing with employment insecurity,” said Ms Hall.

“The Minister’s range of initiatives for domestic violence family law courts and legal aid are also welcome, but again they don’t address all of the areas that need reform. We would encourage the Government to deliver more comprehensive reforms in this area.”

“The Minister’s statement doesn’t go far enough to address the serious and immediate issues of older women’s homelessness, long-term inter-generational financial insecurity for vulnerable women, and as a consequence women’s increasing dependence on social services and welfare support.

WEL looks forward to the Morrison Government providing a more substantial response to address the cost and access to child care, and further measures to address women’s employment stability and workforce participation ahead of the mid-year economic financial statement or the 2019 Federal Budget.

WEL Member note - If you wish to review the Morrison Government’s full Statement it is accessible here.

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Available for comment: Philippa Hall – M: 0466 273 308 E: wel@welnsw.org.au

 

About Women’s Electoral Lobby (WEL) NSW:

Women’s Electoral Lobby is an independent, non-party political feminist lobby group that for over 45 years has worked tirelessly to improve the position of women in society.

 

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