Powerful coalition of women call for both parties to stop their war on women

15 May 2016. With the 2016/17 Budget failing to bring Australian women into the centre of the economy and pushing many further into poverty as well as cuts to overseas aid which will hurt vulnerable women in our region, the National Foundation for Australian Women (NFAW) – supported by a range of academic institutions and women’s groups – is calling for both major parties to stop their war on women.

According to the NFAW this budget is far from fair. It provides tax breaks for the wealthy, while low to middle income families are hit by ‘zombie’ savings from the Abbott-Hockey horror budgets. In addition, it lacks investments in education and training reforms.

Health spending is being heavily cut and will disadvantage women, particularly those with chronic conditions. In fact, by the end of week one of the election campaign the Government was trying to negotiate a compromise with the medical profession on the so-called pathology ‘savings’.

Notwithstanding $100m for a national awareness strategy, services for women enduring or exiting domestic violence are suffering funding cuts. Delays will increase in the Family Court. New funding and eligibility changes to the National Disability Insurance Scheme will disproportionately disadvantage women while pushing costs of services for those left outside back onto state and territory hospitals and law enforcement systems.

The proposed taxation benefits for female small-medium enterprise (SME) entrepreneurs are oversold, with most of the returns going to SMEs with male heads.

In fact, superannuation changes are the only single area where changes are beneficial for women.

Following careful, expert, non-partisan analysis of this budget NFAW makes 50 recommendations across a range of policy areas – workplace relations, health, education, housing, domestic violence, taxation, superannuation and more, as well as some related to machinery of government and data.

These recommendations include:

  • Committing $1billion over five years for a long term and securely funded Commonwealth/State national campaign for 24 hour accessible women’s refuges, frontline outreach services and transitional accommodation
  • The office for Women be properly resourced, the gender portal of the Australian Bureau of Statistics be maintained and enhanced and support for the National Women Alliances be retained
  • Adopting the recommendations of the Senate Economic References Committee
  • Financial and criminal sanction against fraudulent VET providers be adequate to restore public confidence in the VET sector and its regulatory framework
  • Immediately reverse the freeze on the Medical Benefits Scheme (MBS) services and continue to support bulkbilling of pathology and diagnostic services
  • The budget be revised to increase the base rate of allowances
  • Respond to the Willing to Work Report with measures that address the barriers faced by older women to ensure that women have a fair share of the outcomes
  • Increase expenditure on aid investments which target gender equality as a principal objective, including investment in preventing and responding to violence against women
  • Properly resource the Office for Women (OfW) and maintain the gender portal in the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

It is time for both parties to call a halt on this ongoing war on women. As the NFAW’s 2016-2017 Budget gender lens clearly demonstrates there is an entrenched bias against women and it has to stop. It is not good for the country, community or economy,” concluded NFAW President Dr Mary Crawford and Visiting Scholar, Queensland University of Technology (QUT)

 

The full list of contributing editors including Professor Marian Baird, Professor of Gender and Employment Relations, University of Sydney Business School, Marie Coleman AO PSM DUniv (Hon.), Chair of the National Foundation of Australian Women (NFAW) Social Policy Committee, Dr Helen Hodgson, Associate Professor, Curtin Law School, Women in Social Economic Research Cluster, Curtin University, Helen L’Orange AM, Deputy Chair, Women’s Electoral Lobby (WEL) Australia, Ruth Medd, Chair, Women on Boards, Sue Salthouse, Council Member, University of Canberra, Stephanie Serhan, School of Accountancy, QUT and Professor Miranda Stewart, Professor and Director of the Tax and Transfer Policy Institute, Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University, and Professor at the University of Melbourne Law School in contained in the attached manifesto as is the 50 recommendations and detailed analysis.

For further information contact Marie Coleman AO PSM DUniv (Hon.), Chair of the National Foundation for Australian Women (NFAW) Social Policy Committee on 0414 483 067 or Viv Hardy on 0411 208 951 or Kristie Hardy at CallidusPR on (02) 92834113