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Human Resources

Australian women call for change in the COVID-19 recovery phase

Health Industry Hub | December 6, 2021 |
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Human Resources: The speed and strength of Australia’s recovery from a once-in-a-century pandemic will depend on the extent to which women can fully participate in the rebuild.

Convened by Minderoo Foundation Co-Chair, Nicola Forrest AO, Women for Progress sees a group of passionate women from diverse backgrounds and experiences come together to highlight the role of women and girls in the COVID-19 recovery as a critical policy issue for government.

COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted women, exacerbated existing challenges and created a wider gulf of disadvantage, particularly for First Nations women, women with disability, LGBTIQA+ and culturally and linguistically diverse women.

Australia’s frontline care workers, facing the greatest risk, are disproportionately women. Unpaid domestic responsibilities have overwhelmingly fallen to women. The most significant job losses and reduction in hours and entitlements have occurred in sectors which employ women. The surge in mental health issues, family and domestic violence has hurt women the most. And all the while, it is children that are impacted due to the challenges faced by women.

The plethora of research over the past 12 months highlighting the pandemic’s disparate impact on women is sadly predictable and reflects decades of gender inequality and policy failings. Yet the OECD and many UN forums recognise that policies which support gender equality will not only benefit women and children, but also boost the economy and reduce costs related to a multitude of social harms.

The group has put forward the key policies they believe will ensure all women can play an equal role in the COVID-19 recovery and move Australia towards a sustainable economy where the full value of women’s contributions can be realised. In particular, the group advocates for justice and self-determination for First Nations women.

Most of all, Women for Progress advocate for change for children – the future of our country – as stresses on families and challenges faced by women have direct impacts on children, who will inherit our society and economy and be the custodians of our planet.

Call for change

Early Years

A national commitment for an evidence – based early learning system that is universally accessible and high quality, delivered by securely employed and properly paid educators and coordinated from infancy through to primary school. Government funded paid parental leave at the minimum wage for 26 weeks, shared between partners and phased up to 52 weeks by 2030.

Women’s Safety

Change the National Employment Standards to include a minimum 10 days per year of paid family and domestic violence leave. Invest in preventative and crisis housing for older women and people experiencing family and domestic violence (including those on temporary visas). Implement in full all 55 recommendations from the Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner’s Respect@Work report.

Financial Equality

Change the Fair Work Act to include gender equality as an express object, remove the need for a ‘male comparator’ and establish a new Fair Work Commission gender equality panel. Change income supports which disproportionally impact women, single parents and children based on the principle of ‘do no further harm’ to lift women and children out of poverty.

Women in Leadership

Change the Workplace Gender Equality Act to require public reporting by all organisations with more than 20 employees on all indicators including gender pay gap, cultural background and progress towards women in leadership targets. Commit to targets and public reporting on women in leadership in the political and public service sector.


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