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The Australian Work + Family Policy Roundtable is a research network of 32 academics from 17 universities and research institutions with expertise on work, care and family policy. The goal of the Roundtable is to propose, comment upon, collect and disseminate research to inform evidence-based public policy in Australia.


by Sara Charlesworth, Fiona Macdonald


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Experts call for urgent work, care and family policy reform

Aged care benchmarks that recognise the importance of decent working conditions are among the policy recommendations in a new pre-election report released today.

Introducing 12 weeks of paid end-of-life leave for carers and including superannuation in paid parental leave are among a suite of research-informed policy recommendations detailed in a new report released on the 24th of April 2019.

The pre-election benchmarks by the Work and Family Policy Roundtable – a multi-disciplinary network of more than 32 experts from 17 universities – calls for reform of the national policy settings of work, care and family policies.   

Australia’s public expenditure on long term care is currently at 1 percent of GDP compared to the OECD average of 1.8 percent, highlights Associate Professor Elizabeth Hill from the University of Sydney, the roundtable’s co-convenor.

“The shocking stories emerging from the aged care royal commission stress the urgent need for reform,” Associate Professor Hill said.

Australia would be in a much better position to deliver a sustainable and high-quality care system if public investment in care infrastructure was increased by an additional 2 percent of GDP expenditure.”

“Our research shows current funding models underwrite fragmented and insecure work in front line care work. We need to shift the dial so that Australia’s care infrastructure can meet the demands of an ageing population.”

Co-convener Professor Sara Charlesworth of RMIT University said: “The care workforce, including child care, aged care and disability care, is female-dominated with poor working conditions; many jobs are low-paid, casual and insecure. Decent working conditions, including higher wages for the care workforce are essential for the delivery of high-quality care for our children and elderly as well as those living with a disability (…) The federal government is ultimately responsible for ensuring the sustainability of the care sector and workforce.”

Policy recommendations detailed in the report include:

  • Aged care benchmarks that recognise the importance of decent working conditions and time to care in providing good quality care;
  • National and state-based occupational health and safety laws to explicitly recognise gender-based violence;
  • Establish a Federal Agency for Work, Care and Community responsible for overarching design and implementation of equitable work, care and family policies;
  • Improving access to replacement care for carers of a person with a disability, chronic illness, or frailty due to old age;
  • Introducing 12 weeks of paid end-of-life leave for carers;
  • Including superannuation in paid parental leave.

“Policy settings for a prosperous, healthy and equal Australia must provide households with time to work and time to care for family and community in a way that suits their circumstances,” said Associate Professor Hill.

“Australians are very clear about their care preferences: family care is highly desired, but so too are high quality formal care services delivered professionally in both centre-based and in-home settings.

“Successive Australian governments have pursued gender equality focused on increasing women’s participation in paid work. Gender equality in the paid workforce cannot be achieved unless new and equitable ways of organising care are found.”

Associate Professor Hill (based in Sydney) and Professor Charlesworth (based in Melbourne) are available for interviews. 

Associate Professor Elizabeth Hill: 0406 919 960

Professor Sara Charlesworth: 0412 889 122

Katie Booth, University of Sydney media: 0419 278 715,