Welcome to WEL Informed May 2021

Scroll through for the latest on the Budget, the terrible setback for women’s pay equity delivered by the Fair Work Commission, WELA supporting single parents against cruel payment suspensions under ParentsNext,  the latest on the wonderful UNSEEN project which stages again this month in Martin Place and WEL’s Federal Election preparations.

Remember WEL is a volunteer organisation. We depend on your donations to support our work including administration, communication and media. Become a regular donor, or make a one off donation.

A pre-Budget shout out to all our members and followers

As a result of intense pressure from women and women’s organisations across Australia we are anticipating that this could be the most consequential budget for women in many decades, certainly from an LNP Government.

Read the most recent feminist input, a joint statement with WEL founder Wendy McCarthy standing with the ACTU, Business Council of Australia and other feminist leaders to guide the Government on its ‘U Turn’.

Next Tuesday 11 March, many of us will be turning the gender lens on the budget speech and papers and separating the spin from the substance. Key  events to look out for are the National Foundation for Australian Women’s gender lens report, the ALP Women’s budget statement and the Budget speech in reply to be delivered on 24 May.

WEL Australia working with our feminist allies in Budget lock up next week

WELA will be part of a group of representatives of women’s organisations analysing the Budget papers in the Budget Lock-Up. Kerry Burton from the ACT will be working on behalf of WELA with representatives from the National Foundation of Australian Women, Chief Executive Women, Our Watch and the Equality Rights Alliance.  

Our small team of analysts will be supporting Kerry to frame a media release or to collaborate with the women’s organisations in a joint media release. Jozefa Sobski, WEL National Convenor will support Kerry with others following the uploading of all Budget Papers.

WEL will be focussed on any “women’s budget” announcements; funding for housing and homelessness affecting women’s refuges; funding for the implementation of the National Plan to End Violence against Women and their Children as well as initiatives addressing women’s economic security.

In a special mid-May budget newsletter WEL will update you on the Budget’s implications for women.

Retrogade Fair Work Commission decision sends early childhood teachers back to 1969

The Fair Work Commission's recent decision in the early childhood teachers’ equal remuneration case is a tremendously disappointing step back in time to where equal remuneration was considered only in terms of direct comparisons between specified groups of men and women workers, and focused on the similarities of the work in question. The FWC rejected the claim that the work of early childhood teachers was equal or comparable in value to the work of engineers. 

WEL thought the 1972 Principle, Equal pay for work of equal value, which enabled comparison of dissimilar work of equal value, had moved us past these kinds of reactionary decisions. The decision takes no account of the ground breaking work on gender-related undervaluation which took place in the 1990s and 2000s recognising that women and men are often not doing the same kinds of work and that nonetheless women's work is often undervalued and underpaid on the basis of their gender.

The decision turns its back on the progress made in the 2012 social welfare case which resulted in significant pay increases recognising gender-related undervaluation in female dominated work. It continues the retrograde precedent established in the first early childhood case in 2015.

The decision reinforces WEL's claim that the existing legislation and machinery for dealing with equal remuneration is manifestly inadequate and requires a complete rebuild as WEL will argue in its election policy priorities claims. Decisions like this one should not be open to the Fair Work Commission under the Fair Work Act.

ParentsNext program targets single mothers, including Indigenous mothers

WELA joined other organisations supporting the submission of the National Council of Single Mothers and their Children to the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights.

The submission focussed on ParentsNext, a program introduced in July, 2018 to encourage parents on social security payments to return to work. The program has been criticised for disproportionately targeting single mothers and Indigenous people leading to a suspension of their payments.

This pre-employment program is underpinned by the Targeted Compliance Framework which, from figures supplied in February, 2021 resulted in over 60% of participants having their payments suspended. In its Policy Priorities for the 2019 Federal Election, WELA recommended the abolition of ParentsNext in line with the findings of a Senate Inquiry.


The April Activation of the UNSEEN project in Martin Place went extremely well. Participants who have experienced homelessness made the project come alive and volunteers from WEL, BLUR and Soroptimist International supported the activation. The new UNSEEN House, the UNSEEN Car and the decals on the floor enabled audiences to engage directly with the narratives of the women in the project and the impact of violence against women and women’s poverty on women’s homelessness - and the need for social and other affordable rental housing.

The tiny house highlights the lack of affordable private rental and social housing, while the car exposes the hidden nature of women’s homelessness and how some women have to live in their car. UNSEEN is made possible through a grant from the City of Sydney and the contributions of sponsors and donors.

We are really pleased that the WEL donation portal now allows tax-deductible donations to support the project. Please consider donating and also sending this link throughout your contacts so that further funds can be raised.

SUPPORT UNSEEN - donate today

April activities 

The April event coincided with both Youth Homelessness Matters Day and Sexual Assault Awareness Month and this was reflected in the April themes. Here are some of the activities that occurred at the UNSEEN Tiny House and Car. You can see the images and videos from the April activation https://unseen.house/unseen-car/unseen-car-2/ . 

  • The large gallery window featured photographic works by women who participate in the annual project, Homelessness in Focus which is founded and run by Mike Allwright and supported Mark Tsangaris from Ted’s Camera Store. Jai and Sera who participated in this project were there to explain to background of the story and its value to them. 
  • The women from the Sydney Street Choir generously gave up their time to come and entertain the lunchtime crowds of Martin Place. We were lucky to have Jess, Monica, Tina and Ruth all decide to include their stories as part of the UNSEEN project. 
  • Participant in the UNSEEN project Emily Stafford, was the UNSEEN artist in residence and many members of the public came to sit with her and learn about and participate in making book art. Emily will be at the tiny house again in May working on her installation for the exhibition at NSW Parliament House in August.
  • Participant in the UNSEEN project Roshee Taylor performed songs about her experiences of homelessness with the assistance of 13-year old Zara and three of her friends who assisted Roshee engage with the public to craft messages on paper dolls to homeless youth, which will be placed on the tiny house. "It is a way to build awareness, reduce stigma and create a community of support through art,” The paper dolls will form part of the display in NSW Parliament House in August.
  • Participant in the UNSEEN project Lani shared her experiences being of homelessness in preparation for the activation of her performance in June of the play she is writing with the assistance of Kylie and Bradley from Midnight Feast.

Media and public response

The QR code activated over 150 people to visit the website, while direct visits to the website through social and mainstream media brought another 1,728 people to visit the site with page views exceeding 15,000. The website has been updated with further information, so feel free to look at the videos and images from both the March and April activations. The media engagement of the UNSEEN project during April activation reached approximately 29.6 million people.

PARTICIPATE in UNSEEN 17 - 23 May 2021

The themes for May are homelessness, domestic violence and homophobia and transphobia. May will see the Unseen Tiny House begin to become invisible as Marwan from Autoskin begins to chrome the exterior of the Tiny House.

We are still looking for volunteers to support the May activation of the UNSEEN Tiny House and Car in Martin Place. Please take a look at the dates in the volunteer schedule to see if you or someone you know can assist us.

SUPPORT UNSEEN today – volunteer HERE  


WEL's Election Action Group

The Election Action Group (EAG) continues developing our policy priorities ahead of the upcoming federal election which we now expect next year. Our policy asks may be affected by initiatives that are provided in next week's budget. We meet (by zoom and in person) roughly fortnightly.

We have broadly settled our areas of work as: work, violence against women, housing and homelessness, education and training, childcare, strengthening women's representation, decent incomes for everyone, and women's health.
Two overarching contextual themes are the pandemic recovery scenarios that work best for women, and climate change.

When our policy priorities are developed, we will move towards further consultation about them, with members, women's groups, subject experts, among others. We will discuss our agendas with MPs. Closer to the election we will draw up our election scorecard and rate the parties.

You can contact Philippa Hall NSW Convenor, on 0466273308 about the EAG.

Thanks for your support. Please get in touch if you have any ideas or feedback for our next edition.

Contact WEL NSW [email protected] 

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