On budget day last year Tanja Kovac wrote ‘We need a gender responsive budget, a gender responsive treasury and we need it yesterday.’ That has proved to be a prophetic statement in the light of the pandemic we are now experiencing. This is particularly so for women.  In the 1980s Australia developed a Women’s Budget Statement but during Tony Abbott’s time as PM it was dropped. That was no surprise.

The government today is still not exhibiting any signs of supporting women who are losing jobs, who are being hit so much harder with COVID-19 as jobs disappear.

In Victoria remote learning is again on the agenda and more often it is women who take on the responsibilities around home education.

One step the government is speaking of is to bring forward tax cuts. The figures suggest that while this benefits the higher-paid worker, women who are working part-time may see a benefit of only one cent in the dollar. There are tax disincentives to households where there is a secondary earner in the household and in most instances, this is the woman.

Free childcare alone, according to Ross Gittins, would cost far less than tax cuts for those high, mainly male, earners.

With the recession we are now facing there are concerns for a growing cohort of women who will find themselves homeless into the future. This is becoming a serious issue. There is already a growing problem in the community with many women finding themselves already in poverty or certainly facing poverty in the future as their savings and earnings are disappearing, as their jobs disappear. Many more women than men have lost jobs during this pandemic and therefore lost their connection with employers, and many were not in jobs long enough to be eligible for the JobKeeper payment.

370,000 Australians will once again be plunged into poverty when JobSeeker drops by $150 a week from its coronavirus supplement.  This number will include 80,000 vulnerable children, and there is no end in sight for these people if JobSeeker is cut on 31 December – three months ahead of the JobKeeper payments, due to end in March.

JobSeekers will have mutual obligations to recommence accepting a job if it is offered and proving they have applied for at least four jobs in the month. As there are 13 jobseekers for every job in Australia at present, and parts of Victoria are in lockdown, this is a ridiculous and unfair demand on these jobseekers.

These are far from normal times, and women are fast losing the opportunity to reset the economy and position them to demonstrate how essential they are to improving the economy.

This article has been prepared by WR Law for information purposes only and is not legal advice. Please contact WR Law directly for legal advice regarding your specific circumstances.

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Ref.: Angela Priestly – Women’s Agenda