Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 14 Hansard (Tuesday, 7 December 2010) . . Page.. 5859 ..
Around half forgo opportunities in the paid workforce; 45% of women reduce work (and income) or delay career. Respondents emphasised the lack of choice (particularly for single mothers) and the need to work for financial reasons and to cover the cost of living in the new millennium …
For 35%, study is sacrificed and for 32%, their voluntary work.
That is, their voluntary work has been given up. The survey says:
A number of women recommended having children earlier in life.
It also says:
Substantial proportions of respondents had experienced workplace discrimination, the inability to access flexible work arrangements, long waits or no access to childcare, and the necessity to provide informal care due to there being no other options.
There is an interesting statistic here, Mr Assistant Speaker, when we talk about childcare and the number of children in long day care. A fact which was highlighted in this survey on work-life balance by Women’s Forum Australia is that, roughly speaking, for every child in formal long day care there is another child in an informal arrangement with a relative or friend. That has big policy implications for us, especially when we are talking about the quality childcare agenda and the impacts that this may have, in that we may be, in fact, providing services to only half the childcare population.
The survey revealed that women earned $33.60 per hour compared to men, who earned $36.30 per hour. That is an eight per cent gap. This is despite the fact that women are more highly educated than they have been in the past, and there have been increases in women’s participation in professional careers and a range of policy initiatives to help further women’s participation in professional careers.
Some of the solutions mentioned in the survey were “taking regular time out for exercise/leisure”, finding “more flexible work practices”, “organisational culture and management support” and “carer leave and collocated care centres”. This is an interesting point. It is not just finding co-located childcare centres but, since women also represent 71 per cent of primary carers for disabled and frail aged people, finding more accessible places for people who are working and have caring responsibilities. Other solutions that were flagged were the possibility of tax deductibility for childcare and “decentralising workplaces so that they are closer to residential areas”.
As the shadow minister for women, I am pleased to be involved in an organisation that has been working hard to address these types of issues—in this case, mainly by bringing them to people’s attention and putting all this information together in one place when previously it has been dispersed. Women’s Forum Australia has received many accolades for its work on work-life balance.
I also want to compliment Women’s Forum Australia—as I think I have done in this place on previous occasions—for their outstanding work in relation to body image