Whispers and Weaving: Miwi wisdom’

a one act play written by Diane Bell and performed by Ngarrindjeri weavers premiered at the TarraWarra Biennale in Healesville Victoria on 16 August 2014.

The project grew from a request from Indigenous artist, Djon Mundine, co-curator of the 2014 TarraWarra Biennial to Diane Bell that she write an essay on women’s knowledge, how it is masked and hidden, for the catalogue that accompanies the Biennial.  Rather than write yet another essay, Diane wrote the play, which the curator then suggested be performed as part of the Biennial.  Thanks to everyone who donated money to help this project – Here is the link to the videos of the play performance and Q&A that Change Media has created from their recording at TarraWarra on Saturday. Enjoy!



Coalition for Working Women (CWW)

NFAW is a member of the Coalition for Working Women (CWW) formed in early 2014 to address issues impacting the capacity of women to participate equally in the Australian economy. Its particular focus is ensuring that the Government does not scale back the gender reporting requirements under the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012.

The WGE Act was introduced to strengthen the capacity of the Government to collect and report meaningful gendered workforce statistics to improve workplace equity and female participation in the workforce, in particular in management and leadership roles. The macro level workforce indicators currently generated by the Australian Bureau of Statistics are not sufficient as they show trends not specifics, have little relevance to individual employers and do not drive change – which is clear from the lack of real progress to date.

The CWW has made a submission to the Department of Employment’s formal consultation on workplace gender equality reporting requirements. As the consultation appears to be seeking responses primarily from employers and employees the CWW believes it is important to have represented the views of women’s and industry organisations on a policy that has long-term implications for the Australian economy.

What can you do?

The CWW comprises the following organisations:

  • Australian Council of Trade Unions
  • Australian Local Government Women’s Association
  • BPW (Business and Professional Women) Australia
  • Financial Services Institute of Australasia
  • Local Government Managers Australia
  • National Council of Women of Australia
  • National Foundation for Australian Women
  • Women on Boards
  • Women’s Electoral Lobby
  • The Work and Family Policy Roundtable (UniSA)
  • YWCA Australia

View CWW Submission to WGEA Consultation July 2014.V3 here.

The Encyclopedia of Women and Leadership

The Encyclopedia of Women and Leadership in Twentieth Century Australia was launched on 2 May at the National Library, Canberra by the National  Librarian, Anne-Marie Schwirtlich.

This is an exciting new online resource that documents the many and varied ways that Australian women have contributed to Australian public life across the twentieth century.

Rather than focus on the women who exercise leadership in contemporary  Australia, the encyclopedia focuses on their foremothers, the women who occupied leadership positions during the twentieth century, women of the ‘pre-Google’ age. The Encyclopaedia had its origins in an Australian Research Council Linkage grant under the leadership of Professor Patricia Grimshaw of the University of Melbourne. The National Foundation for Australian Women was one of the industry  partners and the project has resulted in an additional 425 entries to the Australian Women’s Register (http://www.womenaustralia.info) . The Encyclopaedia can be found at http://www.womenaustralia.info/leaders

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.

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 

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.


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.”

80 people joined us at the NFAW dinner held at the National Press Club in Canberra on 12 November where guest speaker Justice Hilary Penfold challenged women to seek   out mentors and take opportunities when they presented even if they were seen to be outside the usual career path.