Women’s Equality side-lined in Federal Budget

Sydney – 7 October 2020: Women’s Electoral Lobby Australia, (WELA) finds little hope in the Morrison Government’s Federal Budget’s meagre funding allocations to address women’s social and economic inequality.  

After an anaylsis of the budget documents WELA National Convenor, Emma Davidson, commented. “The Treasurer had one priority job in preparing this historic budget: to stimulate the economy so that all Australians could recover from the unparalleled impact of COVID-19. He fundamentally failed at this task.”

“Women, and those who rely on women to be financially secure and able to fully participate in building personal and national prosperity, have been left on the side of the Treasurer’s super spending highway.

“The Morrison Government failed to grasp the impact of structural barriers being faced by women despite acknowledging these in the budget speech. The meagre measures do not translate into investment in equality for women. This was in the face of an array of trusted economists with women’s rights organisation briefing the Government on the issues."

It is clear there was no gender impact lens focussed on the budget and no appreciation that its jobs, skills and manufacturing sector initiatives were ignoring female dominated industry sectors. Investment in social infrastructure should have been a priority for the recovery.  

“This Federal Budget offers little more for women than a summary of prior announcements with a few programs extended in the much touted Women’s Economic Security Statement. It totals $231 million over four years (Budget Paper No.2). That amounts to about $57 million annually across all the programs. Tokenistic and totally inadequate for the level of demand!” commented Ms Davidson.

“Women were the first to lose jobs as this economic crisis began. Then women shouldered even more unpaid caring work. Women also experienced increased levels of domestic and family violence, and impact on their mental wellbeing due to the increased workload and financial pressures.”

Caring Industries Ignored

“What we needed from this Federal Budget is a revaluing of care work, and funding for the support services that enable women to live safe and fulfilling lives. This includes access to affordable, quality childcare, participation in secure and long-term employment, rather than casual and part-time work. The caring industries rely on women employees, and this reality will be tested to the limit, especially in aged care, child care, disability care and community care.”

“Instead, we have tax cuts that will benefit high-earning men much more than the small fraction of high-income earners who are women.”

“We see incentives for job creation in male-dominated trades, as well as space and defence industries, but not in care work. While the  Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Industry Cadetship program is a welcome opportunity for women to transition to a higher paying career, it will benefit only 500 women.”

Failure to recognise the universal benefits of childcare

“It is deeply disappointing that there is no continued access in this Budget to JobKeeper for childcare workers, and subsidies that enable free childcare. Extending the Coronavirus Supplement to those on Carer, Disability, and Age Pension would also support significant numbers of women on low incomes and help them avoid housing insecurity.”

“Universal access to childcare was a proven gamechanger early in the Government’s response to COVID-19, yet it was ripped away quicker than any other measure. The measures announced in the budget are not universal. They are confined to Indigenous and disadvantaged children, and only for 15 hours per week for 40 weeks per year. This does not enable greater workforce participation for these women who need capacity to work 50 weeks per year.”

Historic levels of homelessness for women

“There is also nothing new in this Budget to increase support or create long-term funding certainty for specialist housing services for women experiencing domestic and family violence, despite the increased demand for services as a result of the ongoing economic crisis.

“Nor is there increased funding for desperately needed social housing, which would have created jobs in the construction industry.

“The Morrison Government continues to treat women living in poverty and at growing risk of homelessness as if it is their choice. This is their blinkered view that the only way to resolve social problems such as poverty and housing stress is for more women to be in paid work. But, they need the Treasurer’s helping hand to take the first steps. The Job Seeker payment needs to be extended beyond the end of the year and wage subsidies need to go to the over 35 year olds.

“We want more jobs for women across all industry sectors. We want incentives for job creation across all industry sectors. Until we have a Federal Government willing to address the barriers to women’s participation in paid work, and a proper valuing of care work whether paid or unpaid, the social and economic problems caused by our growing inequality gap will continue and we will continue to pay for them.”


Media contact and interviews with the National Convenor Ms Emma Davison call: 0459 901306

ABOUT WEL

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

WEL lobbies politicians, unions, employers, educationalists and other institutions on policies that promote equality and seek to change attitudes and practices that discriminate against women.

www.wel.org.au 

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