Some points to give interested visitors an insight into aspects of the Budget we will be examining in our upcoming Gender Lens.
The NDIS needs funding security to ensure we can get the Scheme right, including stopping independent assessments which will hurt women with disability. Disabled women* are already finding it hard to access the NDIS, with only half as many participating as men, and the proposed independent assessments will exacerbate this by building even greater barriers to accessing a Scheme which is built to support the male experience of disability. Apparently, it’s all in the name of saving $700m.
We will also be looking for evidence of government intentions to improve disability leadership across the public sector, not only the NDIS board and executive, but the women on boards initiative and disabled women* in the senior ranks of the public service. There is almost no disability leadership in senior APS levels, and no programs to change this.
Disabled women are disproportionately impacted by domestic and family violence. We urgently need funding to make sure that women with disability can access domestic and family violence services, including refuges. The Disability Royal Commission, that is looking at the structural reasons for violence against women with disability, needs more time to do its job. We want to see full funding for a 17-month extension.
Tax and Super
In 2019 NFAW warned that the program of tax cuts was not fair to women and other low income workers. The Low Middle Earners Tax Offset is scheduled to be withdrawn this year, leaving workers earning less than $90,000 pa up to $20 pw worse off. The stage 3 tax cuts, due in 2024 should be redirected away from people earning more than $120,000 pa to better social services for low middle income earners.
The best way to ensure that women have more superannuation when they retire is to address the gender pay gap. Women working in the care sector should be better paid for the important work that they do, and we need policies that make it easier for women to remain in the workforce after having children. As well as childcare reform, paid parental leave needs to be redesigned to help men to spend time with their children allowing mothers to remain connected with their work.
At last the government seems to be listening to the calls to make sure women on parental leave get superannuation and to remove the outdated exemption from superannuation for wages under $450 per month. Another good idea would be to grant carers superannuation credits, recognising that they are working hard in an unpaid job.
Housing and infrastructure
Government-subsidised picks and shovels dug us out of the Covid-induced economic downturn, with men predominantly in high paid construction industry being the beneficiaries from these measures. Will the Morrison government use the opportunity provided by the 2021 budget to build far greater numbers of social housing to provide for the large number of older single women desperately in need of a secure roof over their heads after decades of entrenched economic disadvantage?
It is without doubt that COVID has brought on a pink recession with women being far greater disadvantaged due to the sectors of employment they concentrate in, with many unable to afford market rents. The Gender Lens analyses of the 2021 budget will examine the impact of inaction on this front on homelessness amongst women both as they age and also as a result of domestic violence. Will Mr Frydenberg provide the $$$ to build much needed social housing in our cities and in regional centres?