Axe childcare activity test & extend single parent payment, introduce super on paid parental leave, Women’s Economic Equality Taskforce led by Sam Mostyn to recommend.
The task force was set up in September 2022 to provide advice to the federal government on improving gender equality.
Policy change will remove structural barriers for women & advance mindsets for gender equality.
Speaking at the National Press Club, Ms Mostyn said they were substantial and would require some time to implement.
“Most of the things that we have identified will require decades of work and we’re not shy about that because delivering on enduring outcomes will require building on these outcomes year after year, in a staged, transparent and measurable way…Of course, we understand the fiscal environment and we are all too well aware that as we started our work, the economic settings were changing rapidly. But we were also clear that we intended to ensure our report and recommendations would create a legacy, not a neglected, dusty report on the shelf to be cited in a decade or so about missed opportunities.”
The Status of Women Report Card recently found there was a 55 per cent drop in earnings for mothers in the five years following childbirth, while men’s earnings remained unchanged. And women of all ages spend nine hours a week more than men on unpaid work and care.
Ms Mostyn said one of the primary recommendations set to be in the task force’s report is to expand the single parent payment as under the current scheme, single parents, the majority of which are women, receive about $961 a fortnight but, once their youngest child turns eight, they are moved onto JobSeeker, which is about $176 less a fortnight.
Ms Mostyn said it did not make sense to take the payment off single mothers when their child was still young.
“We tell that community [single mothers] that you are now a drain on us, we don’t trust you, we are going to punish you,” she said.
“This is a piece of reform that is the smartest, most appropriate thing to do right now for this country and for those people who are just trapped in falling into poverty,” she said.
The task force has also called on the government to abolish the activity test that is used to determine who can access childcare support. Currently, parents must complete several hours of paid work, study or volunteering to be eligible for childcare subsidies. A recent report by Impact Economics and Policy found the activity test contributed to 126,000 Australian children from low-income households missing out on early childhood education.
Sam Moystn said women were in what she called a “chicken and egg cycle. So you want to go back to work quite quickly after you’ve had your child … but you haven’t got child care sorted. You don’t know quite where you’re going in your career but you’ve got to prove the activity test and a certain number of things before you can go and get the child care sorted. If you can’t do that, then you’ve got to pay for that child care before you’re back in work.”
Minister Katy Gallagher acknowledged calls for the activity test to go but made no commitment to make any changes at this stage.