The Minister for Women, Kelly O’Dwyer, says the Turnbull Government is committed to ensuring that women have every opportunity to engage in paid work, have the right support to expand their skills, take advantage of new employment opportunities and save for their retirement.
“A key priority for the Government is to provide the right economic settings for women to help them work, save and make choices about their lives.”
More Women in Paid Work
There are currently 12 million women in Australia and 5.8 million of them have a job. With less than 50% of women participating in the paid workforce, the Federal Government will make it easier for women of all ages to engage in paid work, by:
- making personal income taxes lower, fairer and simpler for all Australians through the Government’s Personal Income Tax Plan;
- encourage more women to pursue STEM education and careers by providing $4.5 million over four years;
- help women take advantage of opportunities in the health care and social assistance industry by providing $64.3 million to establish a Jobs and Market Fund to grow the National Disability Insurance Scheme’s workforce;
- develop women’s financial capability by providing $10 million for initiatives to put women in control of their financial lives, now and in the future, as part of a $50 million fund to promote the financial capabilities of Australian consumers;
- support the national rollout of the Skills Checkpoint for Older Workers Program for women, and men, between 45 and 70 years of age by providing $3.3 million as part of the More Choices for a Longer Life Package; and
- help to protect the superannuation balances of nearly 2 million women in Australia, with low and inactive accounts, from undue erosion which will enable women to make the most of their hard earned superannuation savings.
It’s been a long time in coming but the Federal Government is finally taking action to protect superannuation from being eroded by fees imposed by super funds. Women retire with much less superannuation than men, so these initiatives will benefit working women. The Federal Government will:
- cap certain fees at 3 per cent for accounts with balances less than $6,000 (low balances);
- ban exit fees; offer insurance only on an opt in for young members, inactive accounts, and low balance accounts; and
- empower the ATO to reunite people’s lost and low and inactive accounts with their active accounts where possible.
Protecting Women’s Safety and Welfare
The Turnbull Government is committing $54.4 million to services for women affected by violence and for online safety initiatives in this Budget, including:
- an additional $11.5 million for the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service 1800RESPECT over two years;
- $6.7 million to maintain funding for DV-alert to continue its domestic violence response training for community frontline workers;
- $14.2 million over four years for the Office of the eSafety Commissioner to help make cyberspace safe for women; and
- $22 million over five years to address abuse of older Australians, which affects up to 20 per cent of elderly women.
Women’s Health and Wellbeing
This Budget builds on the Government’s investment in health care, which is expected to increase from $78.8 billion in 2018-19 to $85 billion in 2021-22. This funding will provide critical investments that support women’s health and wellbeing at every stage of life, including:
- targeted investment of $20.9 million over five years to improve the health of new families, particularly pregnant women and children;
- $1 million over three years to improve diagnosis and treatment of endometriosis, in addition to the $2.5 million already announced for research as part of the first National Action Plan for Endometriosis;
- $703.6 million to list Ribociclib (Kisqali®) on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme from 1 July 2018 to treat advanced or metastatic breast cancer – without a subsidy, the treatment would cost patients over $71,820 per year;
- adding 3D breast tomosynthesis to the Medicare Benefits Schedule as an interim measure while long-term funding is considered by the Medical Services Advisory Committee;
- providing the whooping cough (pertussis) vaccine to every pregnant woman in the country, protecting both baby and mother from this life-threatening disease; and
- delivering an additional 14,000 high-level home care packages through the More Choices for a Longer Life Package to support older Australians.
“The Government’s focus on women’s economic capability and leadership, safety, health and wellbeing, will support women and help them continue their significant contributions to Australia in the years ahead,” said the Minister for Women, Kelly O’Dwyer.
The Minister will deliver a Women’s Economic Security Statement sometime in Spring 2018.