Last night, the Federal Government handed down its 2021–22 Budget with a focus on women’s safety, women’s health and women’s economic security; acknowledging a great need for investment in measures that support women to be safe and to fully participate in our economy.
As I noted last week in a LinkedIn post—following the National Press Club’s Women in Economics Network Pre-Budget Forum—right now, there is a need for our country to drive participation in the economy. This means measures that support greater female participation in the economy are vital.
Applying a gender lens allows us to recognise difference and understand specific challenges.
Incentives to support women to increase their economic participation are important, especially with the disproportionate impact on female-job losses in COVID and general caring responsibilities. Not just childcare, but also caring for elderly parents with our aging population.
A budget focus on childcare, disability, mental health and community support can generate significant economic gains. It not only creates more jobs in female-dominated fields, but it frees up unpaid carers (largely women) to seek increased paid employment.
Our ‘From the Budget Papers’ section below provides a snapshot of support announced for business and for women, including: an increase to the Child Care Subsidy; digital solutions programs; and continuation of the Ahead for Business digital hub, supporting business owners to improve their mental health.
The Government also announced Budget measures to support small and medium enterprise participation in Commonwealth procurement.
Disappointingly, there was no announcement on Super contributions for women and parents on parental leave; and with borders remaining closed for some time, there continues to be significant skills’ shortage impacts facing many businesses. We will continue to monitor these situations and have been working with members to advocate for them and work towards support that help women in business (business owners and women working in organisations) to thrive.
It’s pleasing to see the Budget include measures to economically empower women. In doing so, these measures must be underpinned by cultural change efforts to support us to change traditional perceptions around men being the breadwinner and the decision maker in households, which evidence shows can cause violence and coercive control when the power inequity is challenged.
With a focus on women empowerment we can all rise. As was discussed at the Women in Economics address last week, history shows us that breakthroughs in equality often occur at times of economic challenge.
I’m hopeful that a continued focus on women’s economic participation, health and safety can continue into the future.
Sheena Ireland, President, CWB
From the Budget papers
Here is a snapshot of measures from the Budget Papers (budget.gov.au).
- $16.0 million over four years to ensure the effective operation of the Payment Times Reporting Scheme. The Scheme requires large businesses to report on their payment times to small businesses.
- $11.0 million over four years to further stimulate and incentivise recycling behaviours among Australian businesses and communities.
- Extension of the Consumer Travel Support Program to support businesses in the travel agent sector.
- $33.7 million over four years to provide grants to businesses to work with the Government to develop AI based solutions to solve national challenges
- $12.7 million in 2021–22 to expand the Australian Small Business Advisory Service Digital Solutions program reach to up to 17,000 small businesses.
- $129.8 million over four years streamlining the New Business Assistance with New Enterprise Incentive Scheme (NEIS). NEIS provides personalised support to help eligible Australians become self-employed business owners.
- $0.9 million over five years to continue the Ahead for Business digital hub, supporting small business owners to take proactive, preventive and early steps to improve their mental health.
- $20.1 million over two years to deliver a comprehensive Global Resources Strategy that supports the diversification of export markets for Australia’s resources commodities. The Strategy will establish new initiatives to support Australian resources industries and build relationships across governments and businesses to identify new investment opportunities in existing and new export markets.
- $2.6 million over four years to support and strengthen Australian business participation in Commonwealth procurement. Funding includes:
- scans of procurements to map any common ‘pain points’ for SMEs
- increased communication of procurement opportunities to potential suppliers
- targeted Government Procurement Learning Events
- mandated use of Dynamic Sourcing for Panels to make best use of panel arrangements
- a pilot of direct engagement of SMEs by the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources for contracts up to $200,000.
Women’s Economic Security
The Government will provide $1.8 billion over five years to improve women’s workforce participation and economic security. Funding includes:
- $1.7 billion over five years (and $671.2 million per year ongoing) to assist families by reducing out of pocket costs and supporting parental choice. The Child Care Subsidy (CCS) rate will be increased by 30 percentage points for the second child and subsequent children aged five years and under in care, up to a maximum CCS rate of 95 per cent for these children, commencing on 11 July 2022; and removing the CCS annual cap of $10,560 per child per year, commencing on 1 July 2022.
- $42.4 million over seven years to establish the Boosting the Next Generation of Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Program by co-funding scholarships for women in STEM, in partnership with industry.
- $38.3 million over five years to increase grant funding available through the Women’s Leadership and Development Program.
- $13.9 million over four years to establish an Early Stage Social Enterprise Foundation focused on providing capacity building and financial support for early stage social enterprises that improve the safety and economic security of Indigenous women.
- $12.2 million over two years to fund an additional round of the National Careers Institute Partnership Grants program to support projects that facilitate career opportunities and career pathways for women.
- $10.7 million over two years to extend the family law small claims property pilot and Legal Aid Commission family law property mediation trial for settlement of property of less than $500,000 following a relationship breakdown.
- $2.6 million over three years to expand the Career Revive program to support more medium to large regional businesses attract and retain women returning to work after a career break.
- $0.6 million over three years for the Women in STEM Ambassador Program to develop an evaluation toolkit to support standardised evaluation planning and reporting tools for the STEM sector, in the evaluation of STEM gender equity initiatives.
- The Government will provide $998.1 million over four years (and $2.3 million in 2025–26) for initiatives to reduce, and support the victims of Family, Domestic and Sexual Violence (FDSV) against women and children. These proposals form the Government’s transitional strategy ahead of the development of the new National Plan to replace the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children (2010–2022).
- Personal income tax: To support household income and create more jobs, the Government will deliver an additional $7.8 billion in tax cuts by retaining the low- and middle-income tax offset (LMITO) in 2021–22.
- Self-education expenses: The Government is removing the exclusion of the first $250 of deductions for prescribed courses of education. This will simplify the tax return process and reduce compliance costs for individuals claiming self-education expense deductions.
- Digital economy strategy—self-assess life of intangibles: The Government will allow taxpayers to self-assess the effective life of certain depreciating intangible assets for tax purposes, rather than being required to use the effective life currently prescribed by statute.
- $128.4 million over three years for a new Indigenous Skills and Employment Program, which will replace existing programs, including the Employment Parity Initiative, Vocational Training and Employment Centres and Tailored Assistance Employment Grants.
- $63.5 million over four years to support an additional 2,700 places in Indigenous girls academies. These placements will provide culturally appropriate support to girls and young women to graduate Year 12.
- $506.3 million over two years to extend the JobTrainer Fund. This includes an additional $500 million in funding for the National Partnership Agreement on the JobTrainer Fund, to be matched by contributions from the states and territories, to deliver around 163,000 additional low fee and free training places in areas of skills need, including 33,800 additional training places to support aged care skills needs and 10,000 places for digital skills courses. Eligibility for the Fund will be expanded to include selected employed cohorts that are continuing to be affected by COVID-19. This measure also includes $6.3 million for a campaign to encourage take up of training opportunities.
- An additional $2.7 billion over four years to expand the Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements wage subsidy to further support businesses and Group Training Organisations to take on new apprentices and trainees. Eligible businesses will be reimbursed up to 50 per cent of an apprentice or trainee’s wages of up to $7,000 per quarter for 12 months.