The Parenthood has welcomed the release of the Women’s Economic Equality Taskforce final report and its confirmation that Australia’s economic system is misaligned with the needs of women and reform is needed for early learning and paid parental leave.
The key take-home message of the report is the shocking calculation of $128 billion that Australia could save by “purposefully removing the persistent and pervasive barriers to women’s full and equal participation in economic activity”.
The Taskforce’s recommendations in response to this include:
● Legislating and investing in universal, high-quality and affordable early childhood education and care, that meets the needs of modern families, and is culturally appropriate;
● Immediately abolishing the Child Care Subsidy Activity Test;
● Increasing the parental leave payment to 52 weeks and offering leave payment at replacement wage level;
● Paying superannuation on the paid parental leave entitlement and incentivising males to use the scheme;
● Elevating the status of care work to attract a skilled and diverse workforce.
Parenthood Interim CEO Jessica Rudd said women across Australia were looking for government action on productivity through more equitable and supportive work opportunities for women.
“The economy is crying out for action that frees up women to work and achieves educational outcomes for children. While paid parental leave reforms announced last week are a positive step, Australia lags behind other comparable economies in its paid parental leave offering.
“The report also recognises the need for a nation-wide cultural shift, in which the responsibility of caring for kids and generating family income is shared equally between parents. This is a shift that will take years to see tangibly, so we really need to start now.
“While the extension of paid parental leave announced last week is welcome, the taskforce recommendations go further and urge year-long paid parental leave. The Parenthood over recent years called for 52 weeks of paid parental leave to help close the gap on women’s equality and improve bonding and care in the first year of a child’s life.
“Reform of early learning and paid parental leave will support women’s equality, as well as deliver big benefits to children, families, business and the nation,” Ms Rudd said.