Gender Equality Indicators

The campaign against changes to reporting Gender Equality Indicators in the Workplace Gender Equality Act will be launched at Parliament House in Canberra at 12 noon on Tuesday 18 March – this letter sets out the concerns of a coalition of business, non-government, representative and industry associations representing women working across all sectors.

View letter here – Item 6 Social Policy – March 2014 Letter_Sen Abetz WGEA

View Media Release here – WGEA – Media Release – Gender Reporting – 18 March 2014

View The Breifing paper on the Exposure Drafts for the Workplace Gender Equality Agency Act 2012 here – WGEA – Briefing Paper Gender Reporting – March 2014

Media Release – 25 March 2014 – Senator Abetz and Senator Cash – Minimum Standard for Gender Equality view here – March 2014 Joint Release – Minimum Standard for Gender Equality (2)

Media Release – 26 March 2014 – The Coalition of business, non-government, representative and industry associations representing the interests of working women has welcomed the decision to leave untouched the gender reporting matters pertaining to the Workplace Gender Equality Act in its Repeal Package – March 2014 MRCoalition

Womens Agenda – 26 March 2014 – Women’s groups vindicated as gender reporting stays – http://www.womensagenda.com.au/talking-about/top-stories/women-s-groups-vindicated-as-gender-reporting-stays/201403253786

Labor Begins New Social Policy Reform Process

Jenny Macklin – Media Release – 3rd March

Today Federal Labor is announcing the start of a major social policy reform process.

Federal Labor plans to start rethinking the way governments support Australians as our economy, our workplaces and our families change.

Federal Labor will bring together some of Australia’s leading social policy experts, economists, academics, business and union leaders to consider how we can reform our social support system, to ensure we can meet the needs of modern Australia.

Over the coming months, I will lead a series of roundtable discussions and policy workshops with distinguished Australians, to start developing the policy solutions that are needed to tackle the challenges of tomorrow.

This will form a critical part of Labor’s broader policy reform work in opposition, and will help shape the policies of the next Labor Government.

This is a process that only Labor can drive, because only Labor understands the importance of smart, long-term social policy reform. Only Labor understands that as our society and economy changes, we need to change the way we invest in our people.

Australia’s rapidly changing economy provides opportunities as well as challenges. New skills and new ideas will drive the jobs and growth of the future, and Labor wants all Australians to benefit. This is what inclusive growth is all about – supporting people throughout their lives to take advantage of the changes in our new economy.

For a large number of Australians, secure employment, stable family relationships and home ownership are increasingly difficult to obtain. There are now large numbers of Australians who move in and out of the workforce, or who combine work, education and caring responsibilities through different times in their lives.

Our current social support system will not adequately address these issues in the future. We need to rethink how we support people into work, including people who continue to face barriers to participating in the workforce: women with children, people with disability, Indigenous Australians, young people and older Australians.

We need to rethink how our social supports system provides for people when they fall on hard times because of sickness or disability or the loss of a job, or are experiencing significant transition in their lives.

And we need new thinking on tackling poverty, because we should never accept the pockets of extreme hardship that still exist in our country.

For more than a century, Labor has led the way in delivering the social investments that make our country fairer, smarter and stronger.

We are proud of the good work we did in government – making sure more people were in good jobs with fair conditions; introducing the first national paid parental leave scheme; investing more in early childhood education and care; reforming the pension system; investing to close the gap in Indigenous disadvantage, and introducing the National Disability  Insurance Scheme.

But social policy reform doesn’t have a finish line. There are many policy challenges that lie ahead – and Labor will continue to lead the way.

Click here for a copy

Dorothy Hoddinott is an inspiring educator with long links to NFAW

- listen to this interview with her broadcast on ABC RN on 2 March. You can donate to support refugee girls at Dorothy’s school by going to the Donate site and scrolling down to the Holroyd High Fund for Refugee Girls.

Listen now
Download audio

Sunday 2 March 2014 12:30PM

A report by the Grattan Institute, released last week, sets out a blueprint to turn around the performance of low performing schools in Australia.

Holroyd High School is one of the schools the Institute examines for having the right ingredients for success: strong leadership that raises expectations; effective teaching with teachers learning from each other; development and measurement of student learning; development of a positive school culture; and engagement of parents and the community.

Holroyd’s success is impressive given almost half its students have been in Australia for fewer than three years, two-thirds are refugees, more than eighty per cent speak little or no English and some are living in community detention without parents.

“Some of our mid-teen arrivals have never been to school.” says Dorothy Hoddinott “and we work very, very hard with them”.

Nationally, the average rate of school leavers entering university is thirty per cent, and yet despite a background disadvantage, forty per cent of Holroyd students go on to university study.

“It’s not just a culture of expectations, we don’t believe in a sense of entitlement in our school … we build the idea that you are a member of society and you put back into society”.

Dorothy Hoddinott talks about her teaching career and nearly two decades at Holroyd.

A Coalition of the Willing

Friends and colleagues
Women on Boards and the social policy committee of the National Foundation for Australian Women are setting up a Coalition of the Willing to oppose the proposed amendments to the reporting schedules for the Workplace Gender Equality Agency.
The idea is based on the campaign orchestrated by a coalition of business groups in 2000, including The (then) Securities Institute, the Australian Institute of Company Directors, the Business Council of Australia, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia, the Law Council of Australia and the Investment & Financial Services Association who joined forces to put pressure on all state Attorneys General to refer their corporations law powers to the Commonwealth.  This was a sustained and well orchestrated campaign that was extremely successful albeit with a few hiccups. The bill ceding all powers to the commonwealth (CLERP) was finally passed in late  2001.The PR professional responsible for the CLERP campaign and known to WOB throught our highly successful launch of the WOB Traffic Light Index, would be leading this campaign.Women on Boards has committed between $5k and $10 to this project and is looking for financial contributions from $2k upwards from other organisations who must be willing to put their name to the Coalition.
If any individual/organisation needs a tax deduction the NFAW can accept a gift identified for the Social Policy Committee- WGEA reporting. See http://www.nfaw.org/donate/

The campaign will be strong, but accurate and responsible in terms of its advocacy. It will be coordinated through Women on Boards.

Please let me know if you can support/contribute etc.


Claire Braund                                                                                   Marie Coleman
E
xecutive Director                                                                             Social Policy Committee
Women on Boards Australia                                                              National Foundation for Australian Women
Director
Women on Boards UK
m.  + 61 409 981 781
t.    + 61 2 4362 1333
 

Special 25 year celebratoin

2014 Pamela Denoon Lecture

Past Victories & Present Challenges:
Has Feminism failed Australian women?

6:30pm Tuesday 11 March
Speaker
Wendy McCarthy AO
Teacher, author, entrepreneur, mentor

Location
Theatre 1
Manning Clark Centre,
Bldg. #26a, Union Court
Australian National University
Entry by donation

Register:
E pameladenoonlecture@hotmail.com
T 0410 257 377
W pameladenoon2014.eventbrite.com.au

Copy of invitation can be viewed here - Special 25 years celebration Final

Juggling careers, childcare and choice

Words like “desire” and “choice” might be poor ways to describe circumscribed career moves that mothers make when trying to factor in childcare, writes Leslie Cannold. - http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-02-24/cannold-juggling-careers-childcare-and-choice/5278702 

Gender Indicators, Australia

The sixth issue of Gender Indicators, Australia (cat. no. 4125.0) will be released on Tuesday 25 February 2014. It includes a link to a podcast between Elizabeth Broderick, Sex Discrimination Commissioner from the Australian Human Rights Commission and GSAG member, and Paul Jelfs, First Assistant Statistician, Social, Health and Labour Division, Australian Bureau of Statistics.

 In the podcast, Elizabeth and Paul discuss the value of gender disaggregated data and how it informs the policy debate around gender equality.

Other features of the sixth release:

  • ‘Latest highlights’ pages which emphasise the most recently released data for each domain. Previously the ‘Snap shot’ page, the ‘Latest highlights’ pages will be accessed from the Contents page.
  • The Safety and Justice commentary and data cube have been updated with data from the 2012 Personal Safety Survey (cat. no. 4906.0).

Social media posts will also go up on the ABS Facebook and ABS Twitter accounts some time after 11.30 am on 25 February 2014.

Caution urged on Abbott Government Paid Parental Leave Scheme

The National Foundation for Australian Women and economicSecurity4Women have urged the Federal Government to refer its contentious Paid Parental Leave (PPL) Scheme to the Productivity Commission Review on Childcare.

The new PPL Scheme is due to commence on 1 July 2015 if legislation passes the Senate, however a number of key women’s organisations believe it should be linked closely with any major reforms on childcare – which has a much greater impact on the capacity of women to work and care than PPL.

Ms Marie Coleman, social policy spokesperson for NFAW, said PPL and the provision of quality affordable childcare are key factors in workforce planning and productivity for Australian companies and it was imperative to get them right.

“NFAW and economicSecurity4Women believe there is an opportunity with the Productivity Commission already reviewing childcare to add PPL to its terms of reference and get a better outcome for working parents.”

“While we cautiously welcome both the extended period of leave and the increased payments to qualifying carers provided for in the new PPL legislation, there are a range of matters that remain unanswered and would benefit from a broad based review.”

Ms Coleman said the NFAW has written to Ministers outlining additional items it would like to see included in the legislation, in particular an independent evaluation of the extent to which the changed approach impacts on workforce participation.

We have also suggested an extensive education campaign for employers and employees within the SME sector where many will for the first time will experience competitive paid parental leave conditions,” Ms Coleman said.

NFAW and economicSecurity4Women have noted the Government assurances that:

· It will consult with business groups, unions, superannuation and women’s organisations, not-for-profit representatives, rural groups and state and territory governments ahead of the introduction of the legislation.

  • It does not intend to displace existing paid parental leave schemes provided under industrial agreements, but will take on an employer’s responsibility to provide the payment and superannuation up to the PPL wage amount.
  • Employee entitlements set out in existing enterprise agreements will not be affected – employees will not lose any conditions they already receive.
  • Employers will continue to be allowed to determine their own policies including offering top-ups to attract staff.
  • As the costs of providing payments during parental leave is lifted off employers, they will be directed to/encouraged to invest in other work/family policies
  • All eligible men and women will receive the same minimum payment during leave – that is, their actual wage, or national minimum wage if higher, for 26 weeks.

(ENDS)

Contact Details

For Interviews

Marie Coleman, Chair Social Policy Committee NFAW, T 0414483067 email: mariecoleman@grapevine.com.au
Sandra Cook, Chair, economicSecurity4Women, T 0409 608344 email: Sandra.Cook@corum.com.au

Disclaimer: ConnectWeb and Crown Content are not responsible for the content of this Media Release

Australian Financial Review 22 January 2014 Joanna Mather:

The Abbott government plans to use its constitutional powers to override all existing parental leave schemes, according to briefings given to independent experts.

The move would ensure all working women get 26 weeks of leave at full pay from 2015, capped at $75,000, regardless of current contracts, collective agreements or award  conditions.

The present paid parental leave (PPL) scheme guarantees 18 weeks at the minimum wage.

University of Sydney academic Marian Baird, who has been briefed on the scheme by federal officials, said the government planned to use the “social welfare” powers in the constitution to ensure all women received the same leave entitlement.

“As I understand it, the government wants to use what is called the social welfare powers of the constitution to displace existing paid parental leave entitlements,” she said.

“This is an unexpected development because the power, to my knowledge, has not been used in industrial arrangements before.”

Big businesses would no longer be able to “top up” minimum parental leave entitlements to attract staff.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s scheme, widely perceived as having wooed female voters at the last election, will require the nation’s 3000 largest companies to pay a new 1.5 per cent levy. However, the extra impost on business will be offset by a cut in the company tax rate from 30 per cent to 28.5 per cent. The PPL is forecast to cost $5.5 billion a year when fully operating.

The relevant section of the constitution is 51 23(a), which covers the provision of maternity allowances, family allowances and child endowment. Professor Baird said the government would seek to use the power to override all other existing paid parental leave entitlements in enterprise agreements, awards and employment contracts.

“I’m sure the union movement will oppose it, as might some employers, because they would see their existing enterprise agreements having the force of law,” she said.

“The ability for employers to use parental leave as a competitive advantage in the labour market will be taken away. The argument [from the government] might be that employers can turn their attention to other policies – childcare being the most obvious.”

Many collective agreements contain nuanced paid parental leave policies.

“Within agreements there are often other parts of the clause which talk about when you can take it, [and] the way in which the payment might be made,” she said.

“Certainly in the public sector, including teaching for example, those agreements allow employees to take their parental leave at half-pay for double the time. That has a tax advantage, which is why people do it, but the government is not allowing that.” Some will miss out/

Three other sources confirmed the details of the plan, including Marie Coleman, a women’s rights activist who advised the former Labor government
on its paid parental leave scheme.

She said the use of constitutional powers to intervene in existing arrangements was worrisome. “I am concerned about what is going to happen where we have good schemes which were designed to be employer of choice and they suddenly no longer apply,” she said.

Ms Coleman said the growing number of women who worked on short-term contracts were set to miss out altogether.

“Under the work-test requirements, if you haven’t worked in the past eight weeks, you will no longer have access to the baby bonus after March or the
Abbott government’s paid parental leave scheme,” she said.

Participation of state and territory employees in the national scheme appears to be assured.

At a December meeting of the Coalition of Australian Governments, it was decided that “officials will work together closely on implementation arrangements and funding for the proposed Commonwealth national scheme.”

“The Commonwealth’s intention is that states will not be financially disadvantaged and the scheme will be administratively simple,” a communiqué issued after the December 13 ­meeting said.

Social Services Minister Kevin Andrew’s office declined to comment on the briefings. “We are keeping our election promises,” a spokesperson said. “This is a productivity boosting measure that will strengthen the economy. The legislation we will introduce into the Parliament will reflect the mandate we’ve received from the Australian people. Australians want and deserve a fair dinkum PPL scheme, and its time has come.”

Australian Council of Trade Unions president Ged Kearney said the proposal had yet to be formally canvassed with her but she was due to be briefed
on Wednesday. Two other sources who met with departmental officials on Tuesday have confirmed the government’s thinking.

Ms Kearney said unions were wary. “We would be very concerned it would undermine employers to value-add and number two it would undermine the hard work by employers who have successfully negotiated paid parental leave conditions,” she said.

With the budget situation tight, the Coalition is under pressure to scale back the scheme.

Discussions were held with the Greens late last year about the structure of the parental leave scheme. The Greens want lower payments than the generous
rates preferred by Mr Abbott.

“If you are a mother on minimum award wages you will be $5,000 better off under this policy,” Mr Abbott said in August.

“If you are a mother on average earnings you will be $21,000 better off under this policy. No business will be worse off, certainly no business will face an increased tax burden under our policy.”

New Ambassador for Women and Girls

NFAW congratulates Natasha Stott-Despoja on her appointment as the new Ambassador for Women and Girls, and commends the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women, and the Foreign Minister, for their commitment to the reduction of violence against women and girls.