WOMEN on Boards (WOB) has welcomed the NSW Premier’s $120 million commitment to make before and after school care available to public primary schools by 2021.
The co-founders of Women on Boards, Claire Braund and Ruth Medd, said the commitment by Gladys Berejiklian over the weekend could be a game changer for women and a break-through in the thorny issue of closing the gender pay gap.
"This announcement by the Premier is significant and very welcome. Lack of before and after school care has been a major irritant for parents and carers - mothers in particular - for way too long," Ms Medd and Ms Braund said in a prepared statement.
“Many families have struggled with the 9am-3pm school hours and the lack of appropriate on-site childcare for even an hour or so either side of school drop off and pick up times.
“In most cases, something has to give - and usually it’s the women’s job that is either scaled back to part-time or given up entirely, with the consequent impact of reduced job prospects, fewer opportunities for promotion, lower pay and less retirement savings.”
The WOB duo said they, alongside the National Foundation for Australian Women, had been actively advocating for many years for more supportive before and after care services, including making submissions to the Productivity Commission and lobbying politicians.
They said such a policy would be a boon for struggling parents and economically significant for the state of NSW and women for many reasons:
Boost worker numbers in a state with the lowest unemployment rate in Australia.
Result in more hours in more senior roles worked by women - fueling economic growth and assisting to close the gender pay gap.
Provide women and men with better and more secure job prospects while their children are at school.
Deliver a more structured arrangement for care for children will reduce family anxiety and stress and increase well-being.
Ms Medd and Ms Braund said that, depending on its design and execution, the NSW Liberal policy commitment would enhance female workforce attachment at a time when there has been slight slow-down in women’s workforce participation.
“Labour force data shows women with dependent children tend to work part time until the youngest child has left primary school," the joint statement said. "This continues over their life span - in fact the rates of full-time work for Australian women have not increased at all in 40 years. And for women of child rearing age it has declined slightly.
“In the meantime women continue to take an unequal load in caring duties - preventing them from returning full time to work until children are older; by which time their employment prospects are diminished relative to their peers; hence exacerbating gender pay gap into perpetuity.”
Ms Medd and Braund said the next major challenge was in the provision of appropriate support care for shift-workers or those working non-standard hours.
NSW Premier's $120million before and after school care plan could:
- Boost worker numbers in a state with the lowest unemployment rate in Australia.
- Result in more hours in more senior roles worked by women - fueling economic growth and assisting to close the gender pay gap.
- Provide women and men with better and more secure job prospects while their children are at school.
- Deliver a more structured arrangement for care for children will reduce family anxiety and stress and increase well-being.
Women on Boards (WOB) has been working for more than 10 years to address gender inequity in the boardroom and across leadership roles. WOB is a recognised leader in the ecosystem of organisations and networks promoting and supporting women; dedicated to breaking down barriers to entry into leadership and onto boards. WOB has a track-record of success and is known for its strategic and practical events and programs. WOB's aim is to have 40 percent of these roles occupied by women by 2025. Targets are essential and quotas will sometimes be necessary to achieve WOB's goal. As strong advocates for women, WOB works across organisations and sectors and with government on a meaningful and strategic policy and cultural change agenda for gender equity.