The Work and Family Policy Roundtable, co-convened by RMIT’s Professor Sara Charlesworth, has released its key recommendations in an election benchmark report.
Two days a week of subsidised childcare for all children and a doubling of the length of the Parental Leave Pay and Dad and Partner Pay schemes are among the series of recommendations made by the network of more than 30 public policy experts from 16 Australian universities.
The report, Work, Care and Family Policies: Election Benchmarks 2016, is produced by the Work and Family Policy Roundtable and also calls for the maintenance of a “liveable aged pension” as a cornerstone of Australia’s retirement system.
Co-convenor and researcher in RMIT’s Centre for People, Organisation and Work, Professor Sara Charlesworth, said: “The election campaign has to date been preoccupied with tax and superannuation reform for high-income earners, yet work, care and family policies remain a priority for all Australians.”
Co-convener Dr Elizabeth Hill of the University of Sydney said: “Australian governments need to focus on balanced lives not just balanced budgets.
“An erratic policy environment and lack of a predictable and affordable system of social care is compromising the wellbeing of Australia’s households and economy”.
“Our research shows that we need to do much better if we are to ensure a society where work and care can be combined with positive benefits for all.”
Co-convener Emeritus Professor Barbara Pocock of the University of South Australia said more attention must be paid to the wellbeing of older women.
“The legacy of a lifetime of care should not be an old age dominated by worries about money and poverty. A liveable age pension is a must.”
Among the policy recommendations made by the Election Benchmarks report are:
- A minimum of two days a week of subsidised early childhood education and care for all children, regardless of their parents’ workforce participation
- Extending the Parental Leave Pay (PLP) and Dad and Partner Pay (DaPP) schemes to 26 weeks in the near term, and eventually 52 weeks, and raising the payment level from the minimum wage and include superannuation
- Extending paid annual leave and carers’ and personal leave to casual employees on a pro-rata basis
- Establishing equal pay as an objective of the Fair Work Act
- Significantly reducing the tax benefits of superannuation that favour higher income earners, and therefore disproportionately men.
The report also calls for the establishment of Federal and State Departments of Work, Life and Community, which would be responsible for the overarching design and implementation of a fair Australian work, care and family policy mix.
The authors note Australia’s workforce is increasingly feminised and ageing, with the formal retirement age set to increase to 70 by 2035.
About the Work and Family Policy Roundtable:
The Work and Family Policy Roundtable is a network of 34 academic researchers from 16 Australian universities with expertise on work, care and family policy. Its goal is to propose, comment upon, collect and disseminate research to inform evidence-based public policy in Australia. The Roundtable held its first meeting in 2004 and since then has actively participated in public debate about work, care and family policy in Australia by providing research-based submissions to relevant public inquiries, disseminating current research through publications for public commentary, and through the media.
Interviews with co-conveners:
- RMIT University: Professor Sara Charlesworth (0412 889 122)
- University of Sydney: Dr Elizabeth Hill (0406 919 960)
- University of South Australia: Emeritus Professor Barbara Pocock (0414 244 606)
For media enquiries: Gosia Kaszubska, (03) 9925 3176 or 0417 510 735.