A new year and a new WEL

WEL is looking forward to a big year ahead for women. And it’s only February!

Women’s Electoral Lobby enters 2024 as a national feminist policy, advocacy and campaigning organisation.

If you were a WEL member in a state or territory, you continue your membership as part of WEL Australia until your membership subscription expires. You re-join WEL Australia.

The WEL National Coordinating Committee elected at our November AGM includes members from NSW, South Australia, Victoria and the ACT.

We aim to engage members from all states and territories to drive independent feminist scrutiny of government policies which impact on women’s equality and to power our advocacy and campaigns.  

Our platform spans the key drivers of women’s inequality. We plan to regularly update the platform as the basis for all our campaigns.

Contact us if you are passionate about a particular policy area and want to contribute to our work, leading up to the next Federal election.

Since our foundation in 1972, we have pushed governments, politicians and political parties to deliver on women’s equality. We will persist and will never let up.

WEL responding to two important inquiries

The Law Reform Commission’s Inquiry into the Justice systems’ response to Sexual Assault. See the Terms of Reference here

If you are a feminist legal practitioner, please consider contacting us to provide support for our submission.

We have made contact with Full Stop Australia to collaborate on a submission to this Inquiry and anticipate that the Women’s Safety Alliance will also make a submission on ours and other members’ behalf.

Senate Inquiry into Issues related to Menopause and Peri Menopause

WEL NCC members are contributing to this inquiry through the Equality Rights Alliance with a particular emphasis on the ways in which women from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds are marginalised in medical and workplace discourses about and responses to Menopause. 

Historic milestone’: New Bill expanding Paid Parental Leave passes House of Representatives- next step the Senate.

The Paid Parent Leave Amendment (More Support for Working Families) Bill 2023 is now before the Senate.

It will increase the maximum period of flexible paid parental leave by 2 weeks each year from 1 July 2024 to 26 weeks from 1 July 2026; increase the reserved period for partnered claimants by one week each year from 1 July 2025 to 4 weeks from 1 July 2026; increase the number of days that can be taken concurrently by multiple claimants to 4 weeks by 1 July 2025.

We note that Independent member Allegra Spender has introduced an amendment to increase the reserve period from 4 to six weeks – in an attempt to further encourage male co-parenting.

WEL’s policy is that Australia should benchmark Paid Parental Leave against the 52 week OECD average and that superannuation should be paid on the leave.

Stage 3 Tax cuts amendments to help women in the bottom 3 income deciles.

In 2022 we wrote to the Treasurer pointing out the ways the Stage 3 Tax cuts would deeply disadvantage Australian women.  

In the face of an almost universal and progressive campaign to reverse the stage 3 cuts and a deteriorating standard of living, the Government finally changed course.

We note that Treasury advice on the amended design is that it ‘provides greater benefits to individuals in the low- to middle-income range, which has disproportionately more women than higher income ranges. Women make up the majority of individuals in the bottom 5 deciles, while only 30 per cent of individuals in the top decile are women. Under the recommended redesign, female taxpayers would receive an average tax cut of $1,649 compared with $1,278 under Stage 3 settings.  

At the same time WEL agrees with some members of the cross bench and experts  that our tax system is profoundly inter-generationally inequitable and fails to raise revenue sufficient to support the growing shortfalls in funding to meet escalating need and demand in community, health, housing, aged care and education  services.

National Gender Equality Strategy launch on March 7

WEL is excited that the National Gender Equality Strategy will be launched by Katy Gallagher, the Minister for Women on 7 March 2024 at the National Press Club.  WEL is an active member of the Equality Rights Alliance (ERA) which will be live tweeting during the March 7 Launch (@eraaustralia) and will issue a media statement.  We anticipate that the Strategy will have a critical role to play in WEL’s campaigns and advocacy.

Gender Equality Agency to publish gender wage gap by employer on 27 February

The National Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) will publish the gender pay gaps for private sector employers with 100 or more employees for the first time on 27 February 2024.  

The change is the result of amendments to the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012 passed by Federal Parliament in March 2023. WEL made a submission to the Consultation which led to this legislation. The data on public sector employers will be progressively released following the private sector data.

WEL and the Women’s Movement

WEL campaigns are enriched through our feminist solidarity with specialist feminist advocacy organisations. WEL joins campaigns and - as we always do during elections- initiates and leads them.

WEL has consistently campaigned for feminist led and well -resourced domestic violence services and opposed all attempts to outsource services and refuges to non – feminist providers.  We know that, without our solidarity alongside the Australian Women’s Safety Alliance and the many other expert and service organisations researching and campaigning for a violence free world for women, there would be no funded National Plan to Eliminate Violence Against Women.

If we had not stood with the National Women’s Health Alliance, Family Planning Australia and Children by Choice, there would be limited pressure on Federal and state governments to expand accessibility to reproductive health services. We led the campaign in a coalition for decriminalisation in NSW… the last state to fully criminalise women and their doctors and we won.

WEL joined many other feminist organisations from 2012 to support the campaign of the National Council for Single Mothers and their Children (NCSM&TC) to reinstate the parenting payment when their eldest child turned 8. Our special congratulations to Terese Edwards, CEO of NCSM&TC who persisted over the 11 year fight to overturn a bad law.

Through our membership of ACOSS (via NCOSS) we join campaigns to raise the rate of New Start and other payments and allowances disproportionately contributing to women’s poverty.

From the very beginning we opposed the Stage 3 Tax cuts and wrote to the Treasurer to outline their impact on women.

We draw on the policy analysis and annual gender lens on the budget with the National Foundation for Australian Women to build our election campaign platforms which underpin our scorecards.

In 2024 we will seek to enlarge our engagement - especially with organisations representing women from diverse language and cultural backgrounds, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women and Women with Disabilities and build a relationship with those national women’s alliances.

We welcome your involvement in WEL if you want to contribute to our policy and campaigns against gender inequality, as a women with disability, a woman from diverse language and cultural background or a woman of colour, a First Nations Woman, a low waged, working class woman or a trans or gender diverse woman. Since our foundation WEL membership has been open to anyone who is committed to the objectives in our Constitution.

You can join WEL HERE.

Vale pioneering feminist, economist, Margaret Power

WEL acknowledges the passing of Margaret Power, who founded the discipline of feminist political economy in the Economics Department at the University of Sydney in the late 1970s.

Her groundbreaking research laid the foundations of our understanding of women’s economic disadvantage. Much of the legislation and the institutional reforms instituted by the Albanese Government to foster pay equity and workplace equality, build on research insights springing from Margaret Power’s recognition of the way women’s role as the primary caregivers and their contingent participation in paid part-time and casual work underpin economic inequality. See Margaret’s obituary in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Vale feminist, union and social justice activist, Fran Hayes

WEL acknowledges the passing of feminist, union and social justice activist, Fran Hayes. Fran was a long time ally of WEL and contributed to our policies and campaigns involving pay equity and equality for working women. She was a founder of the Australian Services Union which has become the leading advocate and campaigner for equal pay, achieving many significant advances for women workers in the care industries and other ‘feminised’ areas of the workforce over many decades.

For the past 28 years, Fran provided consultancy services including: policy analysis and development, curriculum writing and delivery of innovative training programs, facilitation of business planning processes, industrial relations research, independent investigation of workplace grievances/allegations, and acting as the independent party in an appeal process related to the implementation of modern awards.

She convened the Coalition for Women’s Refuges for some years after the damaging Special Homelessness Services reforms of the former NSW Government and coordinated the campaigns for the restoration of women’s refuges as specialist domestic violence services in collaboration with WEL members. She was a tireless feminist advocate. See Fran's obituary in the Sydney Morning Herald.

We are a voluntary not for profit organisation. WEL relies on donations to fund our policy and campaign work.

Help us fund our long term advocacy work by donating now. Any amount is welcome. The Women’s Electoral Lobby provides tax deductibility through our sister organisation, the National Foundation for Australian Women’s portal

Consider committing to a regular monthly donation – even a small regular amount provides us with certainty in continuing our work.

(Please note that your tax deductible donation to WELNSW through the National Foundation for Australian Women  goes straight  to WEL. We are still adapting our titles across our systems).

Join WEL to work for a better future for women and all the community!