The Budget - What does it mean for Women?
It is clear from the Budget delivered on 9th May that equality for women is at the heart of what the Albanese Labor Government plan to do, which is a stark contrast to the previous Liberal governments’ budgets which continuously left women behind.
The budget has a clear gender lens already applied with substantial investments and structural investments that are ready to launch on implementations with funding, focusing on increasing wages for those who work in the care economy, with a focus on the aged care sector, where 9 in 10 workers are women. Addressing violence against women, modernising paid parental leave and making childcare cheaper, improving gender pay gap transparency, preventing sexual harassment at work, transforming workplace relations frameworks to centre gender equality and reintroducing gender responsive budgeting are all at the heart of the budget.
In combination with the first budget delivered in October 2022, this represents some of the biggest investments into women, investing in longer term reforms and responding to immediate needs. It is clear this government cares deeply about seeing women succeed and ensuring Australian women have the opportunity to flourish, which as we know when women win, we all win!
Women’s Economic Equality
- $1.9 billion to extend the eligibility for the Parenting Payment (Single) to single parents, the majority of whom are women, with a youngest dependent child aged under 14 years of age;
- $2.7 billion to increase the maximum payment rate of Commonwealth Rent Assistance by 15% for all recipients, with single women making up the largest proportion of recipients;
- $4.9 billion to increase support for people receiving working age payments, including JobSeeker; and
- Abolishing the ParentsNext Program from 1 July 2024 and designing a new voluntary program that better meets the needs of parents and sets them up for success, to commence at the earliest opportunity.
Supporting Highly Feminised Workforces
- Backing a 15% increase to the minimum wages for aged care workers, over 85% of which are women;
- Around $4 billion for increased funding to government and community organisations through reforms to indexation – including for organisations delivering women’s safety initiatives. Many of these services also have highly feminised workforces.
- $8.6 million for the Australian Skills Guarantee, which includes national targets for women in apprenticeships, traineeships and cadetships;
- $91.3 million to boost the mental health care workforce through additional psychology placements, 80% of which are women;
- $72.4 million to build and retain the early childhood education and care workforce, 92% of whom are women; and
- $67.5 million to support homelessness services during the transition to the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement, supporting jobs that are overwhelmingly done by women, including to assist women and children experiencing domestic and family violence.
In addition to the $1.7 billion investment to end violence against women and children in October, the May 9 budget:
- $589.3 million in further investment in the National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children to bring the total funding for the National Plan to $2.29 billion. That funding includes:
- $262.6 million to support the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Action Plan to address violence against First Nations women and children;
- $14.7 million to prevent sexual violence and improve justice responses to victim-survivors of sexual violence;
- $46.5 million to expand two highly successful family law property pilot programs, which improve the family law system for separating families;
- $159 million to extend the National Partnership on Family, Domestic and sexual violence; and
- $8.5 million in early intervention measures and support for men who want to stop using violence.
- $57.3 million to support implementation of the Set the Standard: Report on the Independent Review into Commonwealth Parliamentary Workplaces; and
- •$134.1 million to support the Office of the eSafety Commissioner to continue their important work support women and children who experience online harm.
Women’s Health and Wellbeing
- $26.4 million to support health and medical research focusing on women’s health to develop targeted treatments and improve health outcomes;
- $11.3 million in support for breastfeeding, including to extend the Australian Red Cross Lifeblood’s role to maintain and expand delivery of donor milk across Australia, and to support the Australian Breastfeeding Association’s National Breastfeeding Helpline;
- $16.8 million to introduce a new MBS item for an EndoPredict® brand gene expression profiling test to determine a patient’s risk of recurrent breast cancer;
- $3.5 million over two years from 2023-24 to the Glen for Women, which provides culturally appropriate alcohol and other drug treatment services to First Nations women;
- $6.2 million in 2023-24 to support children to build and maintain a positive body image and reduce body dissatisfaction and appearance pressures;
- $2.8 million in 2023-24 to ensure Australians can continue to access support for eating disorders; and
- $2.1 million over two years from 2023–24 to support women and girls' participation in talent and development programs to increase female representations in coaching, officiating and sports administration.
We thank the Albanese government for the great work they are doing to bring back gender responsive budgeting through an expanded application of gender impact analysis on key policies in this budget. Bringing in the consideration of the impact on women into the budget process and decision making is the only way to ensure that women are not left behind.
We also thank Treasurer Hon. Jim Chalmers and extra special thanks to Senator Hon. Katy Gallagher, Minister for Finance and Minister for Women, there is no doubt having a woman sitting at the decision table in Treasury has had a significant impact on the outcome of the budget and the focus on real issues impacting women’s lives.
You can access the full women’s budget statement here