Launch of Women’s Budget Highlights
Good morning and thank you for joining me today to launch the Women’s Budget Highlights 2013.
Gender equality continues to be at the very heart of this Government’s social and economic objectives.
In last year’s Women’s Statement, the Prime Minister and I charged our fellow Ministers with responsibility to deliver gender equality for women.
They have – across portfolios and across our key policy priorities.
The 2013 Budget continues to build on our significant achievements in terms of improving outcomes for women and girls.
Women’s Budget Highlights identifies measures that recognise, in particular, the pathways that women’s lives often take.
This Budget also recognises the essential turning points in women’s lives which can be so important to women’s life-long economic and social participation and security.
Disability could touch us all – and the effects are profound and a major turning point in anyone’s life.
The ripple effects of disability – the impacts for carers and the community – are felt more acutely by women. Two out of three carers of people with a disability are women.
One of our great successes is DisabilityCare Australia. This ground-breaking reform will directly improve the lives of more than 460,000 women and men with disability.
Women with disability are less likely to be in paid work than other women, than men with disability and than the general population more broadly.
Caring also impacts significantly on workforce participation and social and health outcomes. Female carers of people with a disability have, for example, significantly poorer mental health than male carers and women in the general population.
DisabilityCare Australia will help turn this around.
This will provide a huge number of Australian women with opportunities for greater independence and improved quality of life.
National Plan for School Improvement
In terms of life-long impacts, a good and sound school education provides an essential head start. This is particularly the case for girls and particularly the case for kids from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Women’s earnings, post-school education, and their workforce participation are critically affected by their early schooling experiences.
Our National Plan for School Improvement will establish a new, fairer school funding approach, based on the needs of individual students.
We will be opening up pathways to all women, of all backgrounds and all circumstances.
By providing girls with a great education from the ground up, we are giving them the best possible opportunity for economic security and life choices later in life.
Stronger, smarter, fairer for women
DisabilityCare Australia and the National Plan for School Improvement are our two new nation-building long-term initiatives this Budget.
But we are also continuing to build on our other important achievements and this Government’s enduring gender equality objectives.
We know that personal safety is and has always been a key priority in improving the lives of women and girls.
That is why, under this year’s Budget, we have committed more than $44 million to a number of initiatives to help keep women safer.
This includes $5.2 million over five years to establish a national Foundation to prevent Violence against Women and their Children.
The Foundation will work with the Australian community, the non-government sector, with business and all governments to drive the change in attitudes and behaviours needed to eliminate violence against women in across Australia.
We have also invested a further $28.5 million to June 2017 to continue and expand 1800RESPECT, the national professional telephone and online counselling service for victims of domestic and family violence and sexual assault, their family and friends and for people who work with victims.
Women’s economic participation
Supporting women’s economic participation and economic security continues to be a key priority.
In this Budget, we are building on our record investment in child care, to trial flexible child care options and to further progress universal access to preschool.
We are strengthening Australia’s first national Paid Parental Leave – extending access to more than 1,300 more families.
Very importantly we are improving the retirement incomes of millions of women through the increase in superannuation guarantee.
In terms of pay equity, we are building on our significant reforms to the Fair Work Act and the new Workplace Gender Equality Act and our support of the historic SACS equal pay case.
The Early Years Quality Fund will provide $300 million over two years to support wage increases for early childhood and care staff.
With women accounting for 95 per cent of the early childhood education sector, wage increases will be a great step forward in narrowing the pay gap between men and women.
This Budget also progresses our important work in ensuring that women are represented across key decision-making bodies.
$4.3 million is being provided to establish Boardlinks.
Boardlinks will form better connections between the Australian Government and women seeking board positions.
This will help ensure that we meet our 40 per cent target for women on Australian Boards and that the right infrastructure is in place to maintain and improve women’s representation into the future.
Improving women’s health outcomes also continues to be a key priority for the Government.
Since 2007 we have committed $3.7 billion to building a world-class system of cancer care.
We are providing significant additional funding for BreastScreen Australia and the McGrath Foundation Breast Cancer Nurse Initiative.
We are also funding the Victorian Cytology Service for a further four years to support the early detection of pre-cancerous cervical conditions.
Fundamentally, our Budget commitments are all about building a fairer society and a stronger economy.
This Budget, alongside our achievements so far, aims to provide more Australians with more opportunities in work and in the community.
This helps to protect and improve the lives of women and girls, as well as protecting and sustaining our economy.
Our Women’s Budget Highlights 2013 highlights measures that recognise the needs of women.
In July this year I look forward to delivering a comprehensive report on Australia’s women, tracking the status of women over time and throughout their life course.
This report will show the remarkable progress that has been made by Australian women, but also that achieving gender equality needs a sustained effort by us all.