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How the major parties stack up on work, care and family policies
Work + Family Policy Roundtable release pre-election report card

by Sara Charlesworth


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On Mother’s Day, the Work and Family Policy Roundtable – a network of 32 experts from 17 universities – delivers a pre-election score card showing both major parties have omitted policies that are necessary to provide adequate support for families to work and care in ways that suit their circumstances.

This includes longer paid parental leave; paid leave for those caring for a family member at the end-of-life; casual employees’ access to paid personal and carers leave; or access to respite care for carers

The scorecard, released just days before the nation heads to the polls, rates how Labor and Liberal policies stack up against the research evidence on what a strong work, care and family policy platform should look like.

“Forget the flowers and scented candles this Mother’s Day – there is an election in five days and our major political parties must deliver for all women, but especially mothers,” said Associate Professor Elizabeth Hill from the University of Sydney, the roundtable’s co-convenor.

“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.”

The score card examines eight priority policy areas: investment in care infrastructure; paid leave to care; decent working time and job security; sustainable high-quality care services; good quality jobs for the care workforce; gender pay equality; safe workplaces; and institutional support for work and care.

It shows Labor’s policies are more developed than the Coalition and better reflect the research evidence on effective work and care supports. However, it also highlights that both parties share an “ad hoc approach” to the provision of adequate care infrastructure.

“During the election campaign, Labour has promised significant investments in early childhood education and care that will be good for children and good for working parents. But more needs to be done,” highlighted Associate Professor Elizabeth Hill.

Co-convener Professor Sara Charlesworth of RMIT University said; “Neither party has taken a comprehensive approach to investment in care infrastructure to this election.

“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 two percent of GDP expenditure.”

“There are important areas neither party has addressed – including introducing paid end-of-life leave for carers, and strategies to address the persistent problems of sexual harassment and gender-based violence in the workplace.”

The score card follows the release of the roundtable’s Election Benchmarks 2019 report last month.

That report called for urgent reform of the national policy settings of work, care and family policies and detailed research-informed policy recommendations including 12 weeks of paid end-of-life leave for carers and including superannuation in paid parental leave.

“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 said.

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

Other media enquiries: Jennifer Peterson-Ward, University of Sydney Media and PR Office: 0434 561 056,