Gender Matters with Minns’ Government First Budget
WEL welcomes the Gender Equality Budget Statement and the Minns’ Government’s commitment to gender-responsive budgeting.
The highlights in the Budget Statement focus on workers. The Government has accepted that well paid permanent work increases economic security.
More permanent positions are to be created in feminised industries; 1200 more nurses and midwives; more school counsellors; 48 new Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners and medical and forensic officers; a Working Women’s Centre and a Future Women’s Jobs Academy; $28.5 million to address workforce shortages in the early childhood and care sector.
“WEL knows that cost of living increases particularly affect women due their comparatively lower incomes and poorer financial security. So, we welcome the cost of living measures in the Budget, including the abolition of the public sector wages cap which will significantly benefit workers in teaching and nursing, which are highly feminised.”
The allocation of $769 million for 100 new pre-schools on public school sites is a big boost as is the $500 for pre-school fee relief for 3 year olds, but the challenge remains to fill workforce shortages across this vital sector of education.
Dr Jane Bullen, Acting Convenor of WEL NSW praised the government’s intentions, but noted that many of the other measures highlighted in the Statement were tentative first steps towards achieving a gender responsive and equal budget.
“In addressing the scourge of domestic violence, there are a number of long overdue initiatives very modestly funded like a multicultural domestic and family violence centre in southwest Sydney for $4.4 million over three years. $6.6 million has been allocated for specialist children and young people workers in 20 refuges. They are needed in all refuges and the multicultural service needs expansion around western Sydney,” said Dr Bullen.
“Increases in housing costs, including rents, affect those on the lowest incomes, including women. While WEL supports the $224m Essential Housing Package to support social housing and homelessness services across the state and other investment in social and other housing, much more needs to be done to affect changes to poor housing outcomes, particularly for those on low incomes including women,” said Dr Bullen.
Dr Bullen further commented that, “WEL acknowledges that expanded access to the shared Equity Home Buyer scheme will respond to the needs of some women who have experienced domestic violence. We remain hopeful that a Home at Last Service will be established for those who find themselves facing insecure housing and homelessness in later life.”
“WEL’s major disappointment with the Budget is the absence of a commitment to increasing funding to address barriers to sexual and reproductive healthcare. There is a meagre $3.5 million to improve women’s access to reproductive health services. This is inadequate to improve access across regional NSW to reproductive healthcare information, diagnosis, treatment and services. WEL sees the $34 million to Women’s Health Centres as catching up in an under-funded area of essential health services where a postcode lottery still operates.”
WEL looks forward to regular government reports on outcomes from the Budget allocations on all gender matters. Good intentions matter, but outcomes matter more!
Dr Jane Bullen
Acting WEL NSW Convenor
0413 806 253
Jozefa Sobski AM
WEL Australia Convenor
0403 895 929
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