Published on 18.04.2022 | By Alessandra Akerley, Ivy Jiwon Moon and Caitlin Chiam
The Budget in Pictures
Graphics created by Ivy Jiwon Moon, 2022.
At a Glance
‘Regardless of identity, ability, race and status, all women have the right to live and work free from violence and harassment’ - Statement from Delegates at the National Summit on Women’s Safety 2021
In the Federal Budget 2022-202 delivered on 29 March 2022, the Government committed $2.1 billion aiming to terminate all forms of violence against women and children. With women’s workforce participation at an all time high 62.4%, this government claims its economic management has bettered the lives of women and girls across the nation and will continue to do so in the budget.
The budget emphasizes four key priorities: Women’s safety, Women’s economic security, Women’s leadership, and Women’s health and wellbeing. The Government envisions an Australia where women and children are free from all sorts of violence and fear – by allocating the majority of 2022-2023 Women’s Budget to Women’s safety.
A Closer Look
Marking a record in spending for this area, the government has pledged $1.3 billion to the area of violence prevention towards women and children. This features as part of the renewed National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children for 2022-32, which was formed after a year and a half in consultation with victim-survivors,
Broken down, $203.6 million will go towards domestic violence prevention, while $328 million will contribute to early intervention measures, such as victim centered counseling services, while a further $480 and $290 million will be allocated to the areas of response and recovery. Focus has been placed upon Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander women, with Indigenous led initiatives put in place to address the disproportionate amount of violence they face. Only $2.97 million under the Indigenous advancement strategy has been dedicated to this cause.
Despite this, Australia’s highest advocates for gender equality say that more work needs to be done. During a “national crisis” Renee Carr, the Executive Director of Fair Agenda, argues that more funds need to be allocated to the area of violence-preventing education services, more specifically, through “upskilling” domestic violence educators. Sharon Callister, CEO of Mission Australia also noted a gap in the budget, where the government needs to provide more affordable accommodation for those escaping violent living situations. This “shortage of long-term housing” leaves vulnerable women and children with no place of refuge during a national crisis.
Aiming to provide “targeted funding” for the area of women’s health, the federal government has dedicated $330.6 million to funding initiatives centering women’s “sexual, reproductive and maternal health”. One of the biggest areas of focus is endometriosis, with $58 million dedicated to treatment, with a special focus on early diagnosis. Another highlight is the $9.7 million surge for breast screening, so that women who missed out on a screening during COVID lockdowns are up to date. A new addition is the establishment of the Women’s Health Advisory Council, which aims to assist in monitoring and supporting these changes. Finally, only $1.2 million was invested into midwifery and improving areas surrounding maternity care.
The response to this has been varied. With a lack of attention surrounding women’s health in the past, the Advisory Council has been praised as a step in the right direction. Furthermore, the increased funding towards diseases such as Endometriosis has also been lauded. However, Equality Rights Alliance convenor Helen Dalley-Fisher noted a key gap in the budget surrounding the issue of women’s sexual and reproductive health. Particularly, Dalley-Fisher recalled Australia’s poor track record with young women accessing to “different forms of contraception” and noted that the government needs to do more to ensure Australia does not fall further “behind our international partners”
Women in Industry
The government has promised financial support to women in targeted industry fields - small business, entrepreneurial endeavor, tech and trades.
The government has dedicated $40.4 million towards a range of initiatives aimed at increasing the number of women in leadership roles. How this money will be spent on a practical level is still unspecified. Thus far, the only specifics given have been that an increase of female representation in board positions will be targeted.
Over 5 years, $52.2 million has been allocated to the Boosting Female Founders Initiative which assists female small business owners through initiatives such as targeted grants. This is exactly the same figure that was dedicated to grants for female business owners in the 2021 budget. It is important to note that this is the sum of money available to be claimed by the grants. In the last financial year, the whole $52.2 million was not allocated.
A further $38.6 million over four years will be dedicated to women in trades through support and skills programs. This is significant as the 2021 budget did not provide any specific programs for women in trades.
Smaller sums of money have been dedicated to women in tech jobs ($3.9 million), women in manufacturing ($4.7 million), and entrepreneurs ($9 million).
Women as Carers
Paid parental leave arrangements will be expanded meaning families will have more flexible leave arrangements. $346.1 million over 5 years has been dedicated to integrating ‘partner pay’ with ‘parental leave pay’ so families have 20 weeks of paid leave that they can divide between them as they see fit. Single parents will also be entitled to this total amount of time as well as an additional two weeks.
Childcare itself received no fundamentally new funding in the 2022 budget, the Coalition simply has upheld their child care policy from 2021. The government has pledged to patch up some holes in the 2021 policy by dedicating funds to rural and regional child care centers. The government has also provided short term relief for child care in flood affected areas.
The Coalition has long faced criticism from Labor that its child care policy is not inclusive or effective. Under the Coalition, Child Care Subsidies are given to families making less than $150,000 a year. In Albanese’s budget reply he pledged Child Care Subsidies to families making less than $530,000 a year. Under a Labor government, child care would be cheaper for 5 times as many Australian families.