Women's budget statement needs data, not just announceables: advocates

Women's advocates have welcomed the increased spending on measures for women's safety and economic security in the federal budget, but said the government still has a long way to go in measuring the impact of policies on women.

As part of a bid to show a commitment to women, the government included a Women's Budget Statement as part of the budget papers, and Environment Minister Sussan Ley, who represents Minister for Women Marise Payne in the House of Representatives, gave the women's budget statement in Parliament on Wednesday.

Helen Dalley Fisher from the Equal Rights Alliance said including the statement in the budget papers was a good step forward.

"It's been a long time since we've had one and the last one we had was a one page press release, so it was good to see detailed analysis this time around," she said.

"But I want to caution that this does not constitute a gendered budget. A gendered budget is one where we know how trade policy will affect women, it's one where we know how immigration policy will affect women. It's one where we know how the infrastructure spend will affect women."

Half of the countries in the OECD were already releasing such data, Ms Dalley Fisher said.

Co-director of 50/50 by 2030 Foundation at the University of Canberra Kim Rubenstein rated the budget for women a C+.

"The fact we have a women's economic statement is showing a consciousness of thinking about budgets and different groups in the community. In order to be an A it needs to have analysis of all budget expenditure in terms of who benefits from this measure," Professor Rubenstein said.

Such statements would recognise that policies impact different groups in different ways, Professor Rubenstein said, and the transparency was needed.

The government outlined measures worth $3.4 billion in Tuesday's budget aimed at women, the biggest of which was the previously announced $1.7 billion in extra spending on childcare.

Extra childcare spending would enable more women to re-enter the workforce after having children, or work more hours, Professor Rubenstein said, but a focus on paid parental leave that could be shared across both parents would make a bigger impact.


Some $164.8 million over three years will be put towards escaping violence payments, which will provide up to $1500 in cash and another $3500 for goods or bills such as school fees.

The payments will occur under a two-year trial through a domestic violence frontline service.

A national women's safety summit will be held from July 29-30 this year.

An extra $26 million will go towards family violence prevention legal services, to help Indigenous women.

Nearly $30 million has been put towards improving migrant and refugee women's safety, and another $10 million to extending a trial program helping women on temporary visas access family violence support.

The budget also contains more than $400 million for legal services for women, particularly in regards to domestic violence assistance.

A women's health strategy is being backed with $16.6 million covering maternal sexual and reproductive health.

Another $9.3 million has also been promised by the government to implement recommendations from Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins' Respect at Work report.

  • with AAP

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The budget papers included a women's budget statement. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

The budget papers included a women's budget statement. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

This story Women's budget statement needs data, not just announceables: advocates first appeared on The Canberra Times.


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