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Opinion by Maja Garaca Djurdjevic - March 30, 2022

Government's $2bn budget pitch to women: Women's safety and economic security key items

Women’s safety, economic security and leadership, and health and wellbeing were key elements of Morrison’s budget pitch to women.

Tuesday’s budget unveiled the platform the government will fight on in the upcoming election and one of its key commitments was to women worth a combined $2 billion.

Among the measures announced was $1.3 billion over six years to reduce domestic violence prevention and $482 million to enhance women’s economic security.

Women’s safety

The $1.3 billion is earmarked towards initiatives to reduce all forms of family, domestic and sexual violence (FDSV) against women and children, and to establish, enhance and expand initiatives that address the full life cycle of violence across prevention, intervention, response and recovery.

One in four women are subject to domestic violence and tragically, every 11 days, an Australian woman loses her life at the hands of her current or former partner.

In last year’s budget, the government committed $1.1 billion for prevention, early intervention, response and recovery programs. On Tuesday, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg pledged a further $1.3 billion.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said “more frontline services, emergency accommodation, and support to access legal and health services for women and children in need” will be available as part of the funding package.

The funding is being split four ways, including:

Women’s economic security

Despite the government’s claims that the gender pay gap continues to narrow, it currently sits at 13.8 per cent with women earning $255.30 per week less than men.

As such, the government said it will invest $482 million to enhance women’s economic security, focused on maximising flexibility and choice for Australian women and families to manage work and care.

The funding includes an $18.5 million investment over four years from 2022-23 for the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) to further drive progress towards gender equality in Australian workplaces.

The government also confirmed it is establishing Enhanced Paid Parental Leave for Families, which will allow eligible working parents to share up to 20 weeks of fully flexible leave to use in ways that suit their specific circumstances.

Changes to the scheme also include removing disincentives for fathers to take up parental leave by enabling them to take government PPL in conjunction with employer-funded leave, in the same way women currently can.

Further measures in the budget are focused on helping women into higher-paying and traditionally male-dominated industries. To boost the number of women in trades, the government is investing $38.6 million over four years.

The budget also provides $40.4 million in new investment specifically directed to women’s leadership

Health and wellbeing

The government is investing $330.6 million to support the maternal, sexual and reproductive health of Australian women and girls.

Key investments include $58.3 million to support women experiencing endometriosis and pelvic pain; $23.0 million to support the National Stillbirth Action and Implementation Plan; $1.6 million to establish a National Women’s Health Advisory Council to monitor and report on implementation of the strategy; and, $0.5 million towards the Her Heart Hub to improve education and treatment of cardiovascular disease in women.

This article originally featured in ifa.