Archives for May 2015

Budget 2015-2016 – Gender Lens

It has been the practice since 1984 for Federal Governments to produce a Women’s Budget Statement as one element of the official Budget Papers. In 2014 this practice ceased. There has been no explanation from the Government. It is regrettable that the Government has made this decision. Read on – Budget 2014 NFAW gender lens (final)“>Budget 2014 NFAW gender lens (final)

It’s time to talk Paid Parental Leave, Tony

WOMEN’S AGENDA talking about Paid Parental Leave

visit –

Maternal Access to 26 weeks part-Government-Funded Paid Parental Leave

Call-to-Protect-Paid-Parental-Leave-FinalWe, the undersigned organisations and individuals, make this statement of support for the current Paid Parental Leave scheme.

The Scheme enacted by the Parliament has the twin objectives of enhancing child and maternal well being and supporting parental work force participation. The universal Government scheme underpins whatever employees are able to obtain by negotiation with employers, with the aim of extending total paid leave as close as possible to a full 26 weeks recommended by the World Health Organisation.

We are dismayed by the proposal to remove access to the minimum leave entitlements provided by Government scheme for all employees entitled to additional employer-funded paid parental leave.

The proposal flies in the face of universal acknowledgement of the benefits of 26 weeks leave and of the findings of the evaluation of the Government scheme.

For the following reasons, we call on the Government to reverse its stated position and guarantee universal access to Government-funded paid parental leave:

The current scheme provides universal access to paid parental leave.

The current scheme is based on the Productivity Commission’s recommendation to establish universal access to paid parental leave for up to 18 weeks at the minimum wage for working parents with an additional two weeks leave reserved for partners who share in the primary care of the child. It was anticipated that at some point in the future, Government would extend the scheme to include minimum superannuation contributions.

The minimum entitlements provided by the Government were intended to be complemented by employer schemes which lengthened the period of paid parental leave to achieve the optimal leave period recommended by the World Health Organisation of 26 weeks.

The Productivity Commission estimated that the scheme would ensure more families have capacity to provide exclusive parental care for children for six to nine months and increase workforce participation on average by up to 6 months per woman over her lifetime.

Government funded paid parental leave was introduced as a universal scheme – to be available to all families in Australia. It must stay that way.

Paid parental leave has significant health benefits for both mother and child
There is compelling evidence of health and welfare benefits for mothers and babies from a period of postnatal absence from work for the primary caregiver of around six months.
Australian guidelines and the World Health Organisation recommend that infants are fed nothing but breast milk for their first six months of life and continue to be breastfed into their second year. Exclusive breastfeeding ensures that babies receive the full nutritional and development benefits as well as protection against infection and some chronic disease.

Breastfeeding is the biological and social norm for infants. Having a child and taking time out for family reasons is viewed by the community as part of the usual course of work and life for parents in the paid workforce. Paid parental leave helps ensure that working mothers have the capacity to meet their child’s needs during the first few months of life whilst remaining in employment.

A reduction in the period of paid parental leave means parents who must return to work once the paid period expires will have to find care for their young infant. We note Budget proposals for expansion of child care beyond 2017. Even so, places for babies in childcare centres are limited and difficult to access. Care for infants is very expensive to provide. Early exposure of infants to group care increases the risk of infectious disease. Where child care is not available these mothers may drop out of the workforce. A reduced period of paid parental leave combined with a lack of supply of childcare for babies may lead to a reduction in women’s workforce participation. Good policy design will support a smooth transition between paid parental leave and childcare. This policy extends the gap between the conclusion of paid parental leave and childcare.

Click here for a full copy Call-to-Protect-Paid-Parental-Leave-Final

Federal Budget 2015: Time for radical re-thinking about public policy and women

by Marie Coleman

With astonishing rapidity, the policy toward women of conservative governments in Australia has shifted from encouraging them to stay in the home, rearing children, making homes, and caring for the aged, to overtly penalising those wanting to retain those roles in whole or in part.

Read more

Abbott- Budget 2015-16 Child Care- Paid Parental Leave

Marie Coleman

Policy wonks like to talk about undertaking distributional analysis of any new policy proposals- spends or saves- before going out into public discussion.

With families’ policies it is essential to see who are the winners, who are the losers, and whether all the various pieces fit together.
So the Mother’s Day pitch for benefits to low and middle income families need to be looked at carefully.

The moving feast over the last 48 hours has been discussion around how good the child care package is, and whether the Government can get the Opposition and cross benches to accept the bitter off-setting savings. Low income families are asked to accept a loss of benefits of $9.4 billion over the next four years to pay for the package. Read more

A graph click here from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency gives a snapshot of the paid parental leave systems of some of the industries reporting to the Agency in 2014. Obviously it does not cover agencies not required to report. Note that some 48.1% of reporting agencies provide some PPL, but there is considerable difference between the various industries. Visit

Role Model Website Launch

from today, fantastic and inspiring women who work in male dominated occupations and industries ‘tell all’ on a website designed to encourage secondary school girls to consider ALL work opportunities.

The website,

5 highlights:

* some of the many talented women working in ‘non-traditional’ jobs
* the pathways to these jobs and
* links to a range of innovative programs that encourage girls to explore all careers

Click here for the full media release, promotional video as well as interviews with Senator Michaelia Cash, the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women, secondary school girls looking to work in these industries and the Chairperson of economic Security4Women, a National Women’s Alliance.

Please circulate this message to promote the useful class room resource and encourage young women to explore ALL career options.

Like our eS4W Girls Can do Anything facebook page –

Click here for the Media Release online [8]


We will not support more penalties for low income women

The National Foundation for Australian Women (NFAW) has been at the forefront of women’s groups arguing the pre-eminent importance of affordable accessible child care, both to assist women move out of poverty through workforce participation, and for its benefits for child development.

We campaigned in favour of referral to the Productivity Commission, and gave evidence to the Commission. We welcomed the Commission’s final report. We welcome the Government’s objective of making quality child care more accessible and affordable.

But we cannot support further penalties being imposed on low income women in order to finance an expansion of child care.

Minister Morrison, together with the Prime Minister and Minister for Finance have made it quite explicit that expanded funding for child care is contingent on the Senate enacting changes to Family Tax Benefit which were proposed in last year’s Budget.

Analysis by Professor Peter Whiteford and Daniel Nethery of the ANU Crawford School of Public Policy showed that these proposals would have meant that an unemployed lone parent with one 8 year old child would lose $60 per week, about 12% of their disposable income.

Lone parents who are working and earning around two-thirds of the average wage would lose by 5.7 to 7.1% of their disposable income, between $60 and $75 per week. A single income couple with two school age children and earning average earnings would lose nearly $90 per week or around 6% of their disposable income.

We agree with the Minister that there is scope for reform of FTBB. We would support a reformation which removes workforce disincentives without further penalising the poor. We cannot support the robbing of poor women to enable other low income and middle income women to reduce their child care costs.

For further information contact:
Marie Coleman AO PSM 0414483067,
Chair, Social Policy Committee, National Foundation for Australian Women

Viv Hardy 0411 208 951

Download a copy here – Childcare May 2015 Media release (1)