Gender Equity Victoria calls on Dan Andrews to invest $271 million in health, job creation and communities

female-oriented workforce

Gender Equity Victoria is calling on the Victorian government to invest $271 million into gender equality initiatives as the state pursues its economic recovery.

In its second annual budget submission, Gender Equity Victoria (the Victorian peak body for gender equity, women’s health and the prevention of violence against women) has outlined six priorities for government spending in the wake of COVID-19.

These priorities include:

  1. Gender-equal job creation;
  2. Boosting women’s health services;
  3. Gender-responsive budgeting architecture;
  4. Investing in jobs in the care economy;
  5. Creating a gender and disaster workforce; and
  6. Strengthening gender-equal communities.

The submission from Gender Equity Victoria comes after a difficult year where women lost their jobs at a faster rate than men, and disproportionately carried the burden of unpaid care work, including homeschooling, that arose during lockdown periods.

Gender Equity Victoria chief executive officer Tanja Kovac said women lost 109,000 jobs last year across Victoria, and this recovery period is a once in a lifetime opportunity to restructure the economic, public health and social support system in the state to improve gender equality.

“Our members have recommended practical, affordable solutions to support women and gender diverse people to recover from the pandemic,” Kovac said.

“We have prioritised creating jobs for women to get them back to work.”

Gender Equity Victoria wants the government to spend $47.2 million over four years to triple the gendered violence prevention workforce.

The spend would create 500 new jobs to help fulfil recommendations made by the Royal Commission into Family Violence and address Australia’s ‘shadow pandemic’ of domestic violence.

According to Gender Equity Victoria, it is estimated that up to 320, 000 women have given up finding work at all, and long-term unemployment for older women is hugely problematic.

The submission suggests the government introduces a state-wide COVID-19 women’s employment recovery program, based on a model developed by employment agency Fitted For Work.

The submission also recommends the governments invests in women’s health, including mental health services.

“Despite being in the middle of a global health emergency, women’s health services have not had an increase to core funding since their inception in the 1980s,” Kovac said.

“If we want women to take up vaccines without fear of impact on pregnancies, to return to cancer screening services and access mental health support, we need women’s health services to be resourced for today — not a Victoria forty years ago.”

The budget submission from GEN VIC is informed by its members, and was developed in consultation with 42 gender equality organisations across a range of public, private and community sectors. These organisations are expert in economics, job creation, health, sport, the arts, housing and social welfare.

This article was first published by Women’s Agenda.

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