Open Letter to PM to address the root cause of violence against women

Australian women’s organisations have signed a joint open letter to the Prime Minister calling for stepped up funding and leadership to address the root cause of violence against women, gender inequality.

For more information click on the below documents:

Letter to the Prime Minister COAG and Violence Funding

MEDIA RELEASE – Violence is Preventable Stopping Two Deaths a Week – YWCA Australia

Sign up to our International Women’s Day

Canberra Declaration on Facebook

– see link at the top of this page –

IWD Canberra Declaration Final


NFAW congratulates Sue Salthouse

NFAW congratulates Sue Salthouse who was named ACT Citizen of the Year – Sue is an active member of the NFAW Social Policy Committee – read the linked Canberra Times article dated 12 March 2015

Congratulations to NFAW Life Member Anne Buttsworth

NFAW congratulates Anne Buttsworth (NFAW Life Member ) for her award of an AM for her major contribution to the Australian Women’s Archive Project – well deserved recognition for years of tireless effort preserving the history of Australian women and recognising their role in building our nation, and to the advancement of Australian archival research.

Congratulations also to NFAW Life Member the Hon Ann Symonds who received an AM for significant service to social justice in NSW.

NFAW member Dorothy Hoddinott is awarded the 2014 Human Rights Medal.

Join us in congratulating Dorothy Hoddinott in being awarded the 2014 Human Rights Medal.–and-hope-20141210-1240rs.html

Conway’s leadership enabled great progress on gender

The Coalition of business, non-government, representative and industry associations representing the interests of working women would like to collectively thank and express our deep admiration for Helen Conway, Director of the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), on the announcement of her retirement in March 2015.

Since her appointment in 2011, Helen has lead the WGEA with tremendous effort and tireless leadership the results of which can be seen in the many successful initiatives she has developed including the forthcoming workplace gender data, the most comprehensive set of individual and collective gender reporting into the Australian workplace covering over 11,000 employers and four million employees, to be launched next week.

“Helen Conway has led the WGEA during a period of remarkable progress and positive change for gender equality,” members of the Coalition said.

“She has led with grace, steel and great finesse, as she has coerced, inspired and supported businesses to their best efforts in reporting and performing on gender equity.”

A highly accomplished lawyer who has focused strongly on developing equal opportunities for women, Helen has bridged the traditional gap between business and women excellently in her tenure as Director and her successor will need to continue to drive a closer relationship between these communities.

This role is highly important to develop effective strategies to overcome the persistent gender wage gap in Australia and is directly relevant to Australia achieving the agreements made at the G20 to undertake further efforts to achieve higher female work-force participation.

We call on the Government to ensure the next Director of the WGEA is identified through a public and transparent advertising and selection process that includes a member of the women’s coalition in the process, as was the case with Helen’s selection.

The Coalition looks forward to working closely with the next Executive Director of the WGEA on the critical issue of achieving gender equity in the Australian workplace.

We wish Helen the very best in her retirement and congratulate her on her excellent contribution to advancing the cause of women, and particularly working women, in Australia.

For further information contact Viv Hardy on or (02) 9283 4113

Issued on behalf of the following members of the Coalition:

  • Australian Local Government Women’s Association
  • Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU)
  • BPW (Business and Professional Women) Australia
  • Financial Services Institute of Australasia
  • Local Government Managers NSW
  • National Council of Women of Australia
  • National Foundation of Australian Women
  • Women on Boards
  • Women’s Electoral Lobby
  • YWCA Australia


Marie Coleman in top 100 Women of Influence


Marie Coleman has been announced as a winner in The Australian Financial Review and Westpac 100 Women of Influence Awards for 2014. Marie has been recognised in the Diversity category for her contribution as Chair of the Social Policy Committee of the National Foundation for Australian Women (NFAW).

“ I am delighted that two NFAW members-Georgie Somerset and myself – are represented among the finalists this year…. this recognises the quality of the NFAW input to the community and to the public policy debate. NFAW, with its partners in the women’s sector, continues to argue the case for business and Government actions to reduce the gender wage gap – which has increased rather than decreased in recent times.’

Now in its third year, the 100 Women of Influence Awards celebrate outstanding women from a wide variety of sectors across Australia. There are ten ategories: Board/Management, Public Policy, Young Leader, Social Enterprise and Not-for-profit, Philanthropy, Global Influence, Innovation, Local/Regional Community, Diversity and Business Enterprise. Entrants into the awards were assessed by a panel of esteemed judges and have been recognised based on their outstanding ability to demonstrate vision, leadership, innovation and action in and beyond their fields.

Gail Kelly, Westpac Group Chief Executive Officer said, “The breadth and calibre of our 100 Women of Influence for 2014 is remarkable.

“It is such a privilege to be able to recognise and celebrate the outstanding contributions these women are making to Australia. The 2014 winners will join the now 300 strong, prestigious alumni of these awards.”With over 40% of leadership roles at Westpac filled by females, I am fortunate to be surrounded by
inspirational women every day. We are blessed to have such great numbers of influential women doing incredible things in many industries and organisations right across Australia. Fairfax Media CEO Greg Hywood said: “This year’s 100 Women of Influence join a growing movement that is changing our society for the better in a myriad of ways. Thanks and congratulations to everyone for the contribution they are making.

“Many of this year’s finalists were nominated by men. It’s a powerful development to see men wholeheartedly supporting women across all the categories. In order to move the dial, more men need to step up and take an active interest, alongside women, in addressing gender equality.”

On Wednesday 22 October, a gala event will be held at Sydney’s Town Hall to celebrate these women and the significant impact that each has made within their chosen field. The ten category winners and overall winner for the year will also be announced on the evening.

For further information please visit:


To Download the Media Release – click this link – 100WomenofInfluenceWinnersOctober011014_FINAL

Make the numbers on childcare payments add up

Innovation and a reduction in red tape around the provision of flexible child care options have been called for repeatedly in submissions to the Productivity Commission’s Inquiry into Childcare and Early Childhood Learning.

This requires more complex and far-reaching policy reform than the ‘tax breaks for centre-based care and nannies’ often called for by leading business men and women. For a start the economics don’t add up.

The current child care system provides higher benefits than would treating childcare payments as a deduction, as the Child Care Rebate (CCR) is higher than the highest personal marginal rate of tax.

For example, a family with both parents working fulltime with one parent earning $120,000 and the other earning $60,000 paying child care fees of $15,000pa for one child, would receive an after tax refund of $5,850. Under the current scheme a CCR entitlement of 50% would be $7,500. This is the case up to the point where the childcare fees exceed the cap of $15,000 per child.

The CCR is also payable fortnightly to a child care centre, whereas tax deductibility would require either waiting until the end of the financial year or adjustments to PAYG deductions. This would pose a much higher financial burden on the majority of families.

So while tax deductibility might work for high income earners it does not distribute the benefits as equitably as a tiered rebate system. This should effectively rule it out as a policy option, however the broader issue of flexible and affordable child-care for the majority of working parents remains.

In its recent draft report, the Productivity Commission (the Commission) estimated that there may be up to 165 000 parents (on a full time equivalent basis) who would like to work, or work more hours, but are not able to do so because they are experiencing difficulties with the cost of, or access to, suitable childcare.

Australia is at the lower end of the OECD when it comes to workforce participation. Around 38 per cent of couple families have one parent working full time and one parent working part time, compared with an OECD average of 24 per cent, according to the Commission. This higher percentage of part-time workers is due to a range of factors, but the lack of flexibility both within the childcare system and workplaces are major contributors.

The Commission has come up with some excellent recommendations. Chief of which is replacing the current multiple childcare subsidies with a single subsidy that would be paid directly to the parents’ choice of provider, and be means and activity tested.

More importantly the subsidy would be based on a set reasonable cost of care, to avoid the continuing escalation in the cost of child-based assistance under the Child Care Benefit (CCB) and CCR. This has grown rapidly in recent years as CCR is tied to the actual prices charged by ECEC services – so families paying the most receive the highest benefits. This typically families with higher incomes, and sometimes for luxury or premium services.

The Commission also proposes reducing the regulatory burdens on some providers and enabling providers to offer more flexible services. This includes ECEC being accessible for approved in-home care. This is good news for the Family Day Care section, arguably the most flexible regulated childcare option.

Curiously, the Government reduced funding to Family Day Care in the May Budget which seems at odds with the push for improved flexibility in the sector. In its submission to the Commission, Family Day Care Australia has proposed extending the family day care model to allow qualified nannies to become an eligible service for which families can receive government assistance. This has been supported by the Commission, but only within the scope of the National Quality Framework and would not extend to unqualified support, such as au pairs.

Principal Commissioner, Dr Wendy Craik, and her team have done an excellent job in reviewing and making recommendations to enable quality and affordable childcare services in an increasingly complex world of work. The big question remains will the Abbott Government listen and beprepared to do the hard work required to implement this major piece of social and economic reform?

Claire Braund is the Executive Director of Women on Boards and the mother of five and nine year-old children.

AFR Talking Point, 23 September 2014, page 43 By Claire Braund

Download a copy here – Childcare AFR 23 Sept 2014

Government must focus on out-of-school-hours child care to get women back into the workforce

To improve women’s workforce participation more effectively, the Commonwealth Government must enhance the availability and accessibility to families, of before and after-school care for school-aged children, says the National Foundation for Australian Women (NFAW), a leading independent women’s advocacy group.

“The debate over childcare reform has been dominated by an emphasis on care arrangements for pre-schoolers.  While this is an important focus, it has unfortunately also led to a corresponding neglect in policy, understanding and services in the equally important school-aged child care sector”, said Ms Marie Coleman, chair, NFAW Social Policy Committee.

“There continues to be a substantial gap in the workforce participation of mothers compared with fathers of school-aged children.  To illustrate, the participation rate of mothers with children aged 6 to 14 years was 78 percent.  But for fathers of children in the same age band, it was as high as 92 per cent.  This suggests that accessible school-aged child care has an important role to play in closing that gap.

“The shortage of before and after school care programs is now at crisis point in many densely populated parts of the country and particularly in Sydney.  This must be treated as an urgent issue for policy-makers and also for the Productivity Commission which largely overlooked the matter in its interim report on childcare – a gap we hope will be addressed when the Commission delivers its final report on 31 October 2014,” Ms Coleman said.

Ms Coleman said that the findings of a 2012 NATSEM study supported the case for greater availability and affordability of Outside School Hours (OSH) care for school-aged children.

The NATSEM study found that only a limited number of school-aged children are in formal care and that the use of formal care is strongly correlated with parental wealth.  Specifically:

  • Just over 10 per cent of school-aged children are placed in formal OSH care when their parents are at work
  • Children living in low-income families are much less likely to be using formal OSH care than those in high income families – only 1 per cent in the bottom income quintile, compared with over 20 per cent in the top income quintile.

“These findings show there’s clearly room to improve the accessibility of OSH care.  We believe the Commonwealth government should improve funding for the sector and encourage State and Territory governments to co-operate in making school facilities available as OSH care sites.

“Commonwealth funding should be tied to appropriate standards for OSH care programs, but at the same time, the sector should not be over-burdened with ‘red tape’.  After all, the needs of school-aged children in generally short-term care outside of class time, are quite different from those of infants and toddlers in long day care.  It goes without saying that carers and educators in OSH care programs should be vetted and appropriate qualified, but it may not be necessary for all to have education qualifications or for centre reporting requirements to fall under the stringent National Quality Control Framework,” Ms Coleman said.

“Successful OSH Care programs are those that run fun, safe and engaging programs for kids from facilities located at the school itself.  Making OSH care more available, affordable and convenient will have a very positive impact in getting women with school-aged kids back into the workforce”.


For further information contact Marie Coleman on 0414 483 067 or Viv Hardy at CallidusPR on 0411 208 951 or 02 9283 4113.

Download a copy of the Release here – NFAW Release – OSH Care – September 2014-1

More attention needed for before and after-school care:


Improving before and after-school care and holiday programs could be the most efficient and effective way of helping more women re-enter the workforce, the National Foundation for Australian Women says. 

With current policy debates firmly focused on paid parental leave and care for small children, the Foundation for Australian Women is calling on the federal government to pay closer attention to care for children once they are at school.

“The concentration of parental complaints and of governmental policy on care for the under school age child has led to a serious deficiency in both service provision and policy understanding of the sector,” it says in its final submission to the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into childcare.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the workforce participation rate for mothers whose youngest child is between six and 14 years is 78 per cent. This compares to 92 per cent for fathers of school-aged children.

The Foundation for Australian Women said research indicates that only a very limited number of school-aged children are in formal care.

A 2012 National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling study found that about ten per cent of school-aged children used what is called ‘outside school hours care’ and that they were more likely to come from affluent areas. It also found that many households with school-aged children were having difficulty accessing childcare.

In its submission, the Foundation for Australian Women said that parents were also reporting particular problems during school holidays. “Parents report sub-teen children [are] unwilling to attend programs designed for five and six year-olds and that activities which are of interest are not eligible for the Child Care Benefit or Child Care Rebate.”

The Productivity Commission’s draft report, released in July, reported that it too, had heard parents were having problems accessing outside school hours care, noting that schools’ six-hour days and 12 weeks of holidays do “not facilitate parents participating in paid work”.

The commission recommended that state and territory governments direct schools to take responsibility for organising an outside hours service for their students “where demand is sufficiently large for a service to be viable”.

The Foundation for Australian Women said the idea had “merit” but “will require the cooperation of state education departments, which may be a barrier to implementation”.  “The commission’s report is unhappily not comprehensive in its treatment of this area … and we note that most commentary and response to the [draft] report has ignored the area,” it said.

The Productivity Commission will provide its final report to the federal government by October 31.

Judith Ireland, National political reporter – September 9, 2014