The Women’s Budget Statement 2022-23

Budget

30 March 2022

The Women’s Budget Statement (WBS) 2022-23 is an assortment of policies that has the potential to positively impact gender equality outcomes over time.

With women’s workforce participation at a record high (62.4 percent), the fact remains that the nature of the employment is part time (with women comprising 70 percent of part-time workers) and in industries that are traditionally lower paid – NDIS, Aged Care, Health Care, Child Care, and teaching[1].

In private sector organisations with more than 100 employees, the gender pay gap measured by base salary for all employees is 18.3 percent and 23.8 percent for all non-managerial employees[2].

In terms of women’s safety, the Treasurer mentioned in his Budget Speech that one woman is killed from intimate partner violence every eleven days.

Given these statistics, there are three main focusses for the Government’s WBS: women’s safety, women’s economic security, and women’s health and well-being.

Overall, there is an extension of the Government’s $3.4 billion investment made in 2021-22 by adding a further $2.1 billion.

Women’s safety

A significant proportion of the Government’s added investment, $1.3 billion, is to be put towards the National Plan to End Violence against Women and Children 2022-2032. This plan is comprised of four pillars - prevention, early intervention, response, and recovery – and consists of:

  • $203.6 million over six years to fund prevention efforts.

  • $104.4 million over five years to support the leading prevention organisation, Our Watch.

  • $89.2 million over five years to address healthy relationships including consent. This is to be implemented through the Stop it at the Start campaign - a new consent campaign for the over 12s and their parents, a national survey on consent at the school level, and an online platform concerning respectful relationships.

  • At least $328.2 million over five years toward early intervention, supporting survivors, and a range of activities to help people who use violence to change behaviours.

  • $480.1 million towards new initiatives to support access to justice for survivors, including safe housing, at-home security upgrades, and a three- year extension to the Escaping Violence payment.

Women’s economic security

Almost $500 million is being invested in women’s economic security as this is regarded as an economic priority for Australia.

Measures being addressed include barriers to workforce participation and drivers of the gender pay gap; primarily, flexibility and choice for women and families to manage work and care, supporting pathways into more diverse jobs, and creating new leadership pathways for women.

Notable is the Enhanced Paid Parental Leave Scheme for Families, although it remains to be seen whether childcare remains predominantly with women or we see an equal uptake by men supported by their workplaces to take family leave.

New initiatives include increased funding for the Workplace Gender Equality Act (WGEA) to drive progress towards gender equality and for the Community Child Care Fund to provide childcare in regional and remote areas where no childcare currently exists.

Other initiatives to help secure women’s economic status are:

  • Projects to increase the participation of women in trades (~$40 million).

  • A further ~$5 million to encourage women into the manufacturing industry.

  • ~$4million to support women into more digitally skilled roles.

  • $9 million over three years to expand the Future Female Entrepreneurs Program.

Women’s health and wellbeing

There are new initiatives in women’s wellness including the addition of Trodelvy, an expensive and often therefore unattainable breast cancer drug, to the PBS. Other initiatives are for pelvic pain and the detection and treatment of endometriosis, which is a crippling and often misdiagnosed condition affecting approximately 11 percent of women and girls[3]. This cannot be undervalued. Other substantial initiatives include:

  • Stillbirth prevention and bereavement support measures.

  • Maternal health measures.

  • Fertility measures.

  • Eating disorders pilot program.

  • Changes to the Medicare Benefits Schedules to add new and amended items relating to obstetrics and gynaecology.

  • Additional funding for the McGrath Foundation Breast Care Nurses Program.

  • New initiatives for the Ovarian Cancer Foundation Teal Support Program.

  • Support for the Her Heart Hub website.

Underlying this and other women’s measures is an increase in funding to support the collection of data and statistical analysis to guide future investments.

In conjunction with the WBS, there are Budget initiatives that indirectly serve women which include targeted programs that on a proportionate basis are likely to reach more women. Some examples of these initiatives are the NDIS and Aged Care funding for training and the $800 cash boosts. Others include:

  • Removal of the $450 per month income threshold for superannuation.

  • Improvement of the visibility of superannuation assets in family law proceedings.

  • Expanded supports for housing and homelessness as a result of violence.

  • Expansion of the Family Home Guarantee – the uptake of which is 85% percent women.

The WBS 2022-2023 is an expansive list of targeted and much needed measures well overdue for funding. The continuing challenge will be the upward trajectory on the equality spend regardless of the competing budgetary pressures that are likely due to the increases in Defence spend, a fully funded NDIS, and the possible further support that the Aged Care industry will need.

Check out the full coveragefrom the Federal Budget 2022-23, which will continue to develop throughout the week as new insights and video content are published.

[1] WGEA and ABS statistics accessed 29 March 2022

[2] ibid

[3] Endometriosis Australia accessed 29 March 2022