Closing the gender gap

Closing the gender gap

By Josh Burns

We have made huge progress on gender equality in my lifetime – including in politics, where we now have a cabinet that consists of 50 percent women. However, there is still much more that needs to be done.

Too often, we see women held back, disadvantaged, or discriminated against. Gender inequality is holding us all back.

In Australia, the gender gap persists. Women continue to shoulder the majority of unpaid work and caring responsibilities. They are more likely to be in part time, casual or low-paid work.

Gender inequality is also a key factor underpinning high rates of family and domestic violence.

Unfortunately, for too often women’s voices were not heard by the former government. 

It wasn’t too long ago that the Minister for the Status of Women was Tony Abbott and there was just one woman in the Cabinet room.

But I’m proud to say that gender equality is at the heart of the Albanese Labor Government, and it’s at the centre of our first Federal Budget announced just a few weeks ago.

In this budget, we are delivering cheaper childcare for 96 per cent of Australian families.  

Making early education more affordable, reduces barriers to women’s workforce participation and supports children’s development. It’s a win-win.

We are also delivering the biggest boost to paid parental leave since the scheme was introduced by Labor in 2011.

Paid parental leave will now be extended to six months and we are making it fairer and more flexible so that parents can do what works for them.

Everyone deserves to live free from violence.

We know that inequality is a key driver of gender-based violence through unequal distribution of power, resources, and opportunity.

This is why Labor will make a record Commonwealth investment of $1.7 billion over six years to end violence and ensure that women and children are safe at home, in the community and at work.

This includes 500 frontline community workers, 4000 new homes for women fleeing violence and older women at risk of homelessness and $100 million additional for crisis and transitional housing options for women and children. 

We also will fully implement the Respect@Work report, including the funding, properly, of working women centres in every state and every territory.
And we’ll get wages moving, including for feminised industries, which are some of the lowest paid sections of the entire workforce, including aged care workers, cleaners, and childcare workers.

I know this is just the beginning, but these reforms will go a long way in supporting women’s economic security, giving families more choice, and strengthening our economy and society.

I care about equality not just as a father of a daughter, but because I know that equal and fair participation in all aspects of society is the best thing for our community and economy, and it is frankly the right thing to do. •

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