Detailed in this response is an overall support for a Strategy which focusses on increasing women’s workforce participation, however, NFAW remains concerned that this there are some key opportunities to strengthen women’s workforce participation that are missing.
Firstly, there’s a trend in Government approaches to gender equality seen in the Women’s Budget Statement recently and reflected here, where a strategy is a series of initiatives as opposed to an overarching, comprehensive plan with watertight targets.
Regarding the initiatives, NFAW notes that paid parental leave (PPL) and low-income super contributions are highlighted, however, both schemes have been subject to recent attempted scale backs. Critically, both initiatives could be strengthened and NFAW recommends that superannuation be paid on PPL and the minimum income requirement on superannuation be removed.
NFAW also highlights the lack of attention on effective marginal tax rates (EMTRs). Given that EMTRs fall within tax and transfer policy, this is an area that should be a focus for the Federal Government. On that note, NFAW critiques the ongoing and undue focus of the Government on eroding income support payments and provisions. The focus on the aged care and health sectors as a panacea for women’s workforce participation is also queried with NFAW making the case that a focus on these sectors necessitates a focus on value (pay and conditions) placed on this work. This raises a question about how such strategies should work to increase women’s participation in the paid workforce without exploiting or reinforcing gender-based occupational segregation.
NFAW also makes recommendations on how the Government can better lead by example by allowing casual conversion and family violence leave within APS agencies.
Importantly the strategy highlights the importance of WGEA data (providing security for WGEA’s short-term security), however, other datasets such as time-use data are not considered in details, concerning given there has been comprehensive time use data collection since 2006 in Australia.
You can read NFAW’s respnse in full here.