It was no surprise this years budget was defined by the coronavirus crisis, but for women who have been affected there is no immediate assistance, while male dominated industries such as construction have had huge boosts in funding. The facts are simple, women have been the hardest hit during the pandemic and even with more people working from home, women are still doing the lion’s share of domestic duties and caring, which is compounded by childcare centre and school shutdowns. Women over the age of 55 are also now the highest age and gender demographic experiencing homelessness and it is only going to get worse with the withdrawal of Super early to cover the cost of living during the pandemic.
A 30-year-old who withdrew $20,000 could lose more than $100,000 from their retirement, while a 40-year-old stood to lose $63,000, according to ISA. Female workers already retire (on average) with 40% less superannuation compared to their male counterparts. Australian males in their 50’s have an average of $137,366 when they retire, whereas women in the same age bracket have a balance of just $93,035. But how did this happen? And how is it still happening in 2020? It’s simple. The gender pay gap, which still sits at an unhealthy 13.9 percent which means, on average full-time workers earned $242.90 less than men per week…
It has now been calculated, just 0.038 per cent of the 2020 Federal Budget was focused on women – who comprise slightly more than half the population and who have borne the brunt of the adverse financial and social implications of COVID-19.
Women also lost out big with zero budget being allocated to childcare, this means some end up paying more for child care than they earn, making going back to work “almost not worth it”. Merriden Varrall, director of the Australia Geopolitics Hub at KPMG, said it was a missed opportunity to make it easier for women to return to the workforce — something that would have injected billions of dollars into the economy. It seems the government has failed to understand what women need to get back to work and recover from the pandemic-driven recession.
If the above wasn’t enough the Morrison government is set to tackle sexual harassment in Australian workplaces, but failed to commit additional funding to domestic violence. Zero funding in this budget means many victim-survivors are left without the support they need to manage their safety in moments of great danger – as incredibly inadequate resourcing of the specialist domestic and family violence services that have never been under greater pressure leads to waiting lists of months for women who need safety support right now. the complete lack of action on women’s financial independence – through affordable accommodation, child care, jobs in female dominated industries and income support will mean many victim-survivors will be left without the financial means that is often critical to being able to escape an abuser, and manage safety post-separation.
The thing is the government has flatly ignored the recommendations from its own independently commissioned evaluation programs by deciding not to fund specialist legal and social supports for victims and survivors going through these systems.
The gender trends in this budget are very clear, and there’s a mental, economic and health crisis waiting around the corner if it’s not addressed. We at Stella believe the budget overlooked women when we needed it the most.
If you or someone you know if in immediate danger, call 000. If you need help and advice call 1800Respect on 1800 737 732, Men’s Referral Service on 1300 766 491 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.
Stats sourced for the article