Put women at front of jobs and skills push, summit told

Women are not a problem to be solved but rather the greatest untapped resource in Australia’s economy, the jobs and skills summit in Canberra has been told.

Sep 01, 2022, updated Sep 01, 2022
Photo: AAP/Mick Tisikas

Photo: AAP/Mick Tisikas

The landmark summit of business, university and union representatives has been urged to put women at the forefront of workplace reform.

But the federal government must also take action to ensure women can participate fully in the workforce, independent MP Zoe Daniel said.

Gender impact statements on all new legislation, strengthening worker flexibility rights and mandating gender pay gap reporting are some of the changes government could make to benefit female workers, Daniel said.

“Women are done with being secondary,” she told the summit.

But societal norms as a whole need to change to improve the standing of women in Australia, Equality Institute chief Emma Fulu said.

“We value male-dominated industries more and female-dominated industries less … because we value women less in our society,” she told the summit.

“When we think of solutions, we need to be addressing these deep cultural and structural issues and … we need to challenge those rigid gender norms.”

But change within Australia’s important industries will have a far bigger impact for women than reform in one business or organisation, Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins said.

Jenkins said the summit was an important turning point.

“The conversations today and leading up to this have given me the chills with such hope and optimism of change,” she said.

“We’re not having to argue why we need more women in the workplace.”

A key part of encouraging more women in the workforce will be improving access to and affordability of childcare.

InDaily in your inbox. The best local news every workday at lunch time.
By signing up, you agree to our User Agreement andPrivacy Policy & Cookie Statement. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Policies to reform childcare subsidies are not welfare but sound investments with tangible economic benefits, KPMG national chairwoman Alison Kitchen said.

The federal government is being urged to bring forward its childcare subsidy to January rather than initiating it next July.

Businesswoman and women’s safety advocate Sam Mostyn, announced as head of the government’s Women’s Economic Equality Taskforce on Thursday, said the childcare subsidy should be fast tracked.

“We know it doesn’t just pay for itself, there’s a compounding benefit to the economy because of the economic activity it releases,” she said at the summit.

Yet Women’s Minister Katy Gallagher, who also holds the finance portfolio, defended her government’s plan to continue with the coalition-initiated stage three tax cuts for high earners, set to benefit men most.

“We tried to make amendments to stage three when they were debated in the parliament and we lost that debate,” she said.

“The government hasn’t changed the position we took to the election on stage three (tax cuts).”

Asked if she would support calls to increase commonwealth-funded paid parental leave to 26 weeks, Senator Gallagher said her government was trying to balance election commitments against high debt and budget deficits.

“I wish I could fund every good idea,” she said.

Daniels said if the government could afford tax cuts for the wealthy it could also afford to bring the childcare subsidy forward.

Summit attendees must not forget about the lived experiences of women across Australia, Mostyn said.

“Action will mean looking at budgets, tax reform policies and initiatives through the lens of a simple question: whether the measure disproportionately discriminates or holds back women and girls,” she said.


Local News Matters
Copyright © 2024 InDaily.
All rights reserved.