Posts in Womens Policy Action Tank
The Inquiry into the Family Law System is a poorly disguised trojan horse

In response to the inquiry announced this week into Australia’s Family Law System, the team at the Women’s Research, Advocacy and Policy (WRAP) Centre at Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand has pulled together some of the concerns expressed by advocates for women’s and children’s safety.

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What behavioural insights can tell us about the inadequacy of Newstart

Behavioural insights teams around the world have demonstrated that understanding the quirks of human psychology can help policymakers more effectively respond to tricky problems in fields as diverse as energy consumption, organ donation, recycling, healthy eating, and tax compliance. But what about using behavioural insights to move people off of income support? In today’s blog, Dr Katherine Curchin (@KatieCurchin) of ANU explores how behavioural science can help us think about the poverty trap created by the inadequate rate of Newstart. This post draws on her chapter on 'Behavioural public policy and poverty' in the Routledge International Handbook of Poverty out in October 2019.

Dr Curchin will be sharing her insights at the upcoming Power to Persuade Symposium, contributing to a panel on “The use of evidence through a gender lens.” Register now for 10 October 2019 at the beautiful Melbourne Museum.

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Quality, not just quantity: How government investment into care work could grow the economy

The undervaluing of caring work is a key driver of gender inequality. In today’s analysis, Kathy McDermott of the National Foundation for Australian Women (@NFAWomen) provides a summary of their submission to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. They argue that investing in social infrastructure is economically savvy, providing supports for our biggest-growing industries while also tackling the gender pay gap.

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Supercharging discrimination: The Targeted Compliance Framework and the impact of automated decision-making

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty is preparing a report on the human rights impact of the introduction of digital technologies in social security systems. The Human Rights Law Centre made a submission to the Special Rapporteur focusing on Australia’s social security system and how technology is increasingly being used to target and punish people, especially single mothers, through programs like ParentsNext. Monique Hurley (@monique_hurley) from the Human Rights Law Centre (@RightsAgenda) summarises their submission, focusing on the gendered impacts. The full submission is available here. More information about the Special Rapporteur’s report is available here.  

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The mental health impacts of sexualisation, family violence and assault

The Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System provides an opportunity to consider the social and economic factors that contribute to poor mental health using a gender lens. Today’s analysis, by Policy Whisperer Susan Maury (@SusanMaury) and Sarah Squire (@SquireSarah) of Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand (@GoodAdvocacy), provides an overview of how rigid gender stereotyping creates a cascade effect of experiences that compromise women’s and girls’ mental health. This is the fourth in a 4-part series based on Good Shepherd’s submission; Part 1 provides an overview of the gendered nature of mental health, Part 2 discusses the related issue of economic inequality, and Part 3 examines the influence of financial hardship.

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Invisible women? Migrant workers need feminist solidarity

Domestic workers are one of the world's most invisible work forces. Their labour is performed beyond the reach of regulators, in private households, including those with significant power and influence— diplomatic and consular officials. Recent research by The Salvation Army found that domestic servitude is occurring in Australia at higher rates than official figures suggest and disproportionately affects women. In today’s post, Heather Moore (@alittlewave) of Monash University (@TSResearchGroup @MigrationMonash) shares findings of her research: Service or Servitude? A Study of Trafficking for Domestic Servitude in Australia. Her findings indicate there is a largely unrecognised feminised workforce that many Australians utilise. Too often migrant domestic workers do not enjoy equal access to protection under the law as other Australian workers do, and are are largely excluded from the mainstream policy discourse on women and rights at work.

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From “mothers having babies” to “people raising families”: Policy and cultural change at Baker McKenzie for inclusive parenting leave

There are many reasons to support fathers taking leave at the birth of a child, including indications that taking time off to be with a newborn results in increased parental engagement across childhood – an area that continues to have a strong gender imbalance in Australia – and supporting a host of other positive outcomes, including maternal wellbeing and narrowing the gender pay gap.

Yet few fathers are encouraged to or, in many cases, are unable to take parental leave at the time of birth, and often unsupportive policy creates the first barrier. In today’s analysis, Kirsty White of law firm Baker McKenzie’s Diversity and Inclusion team shares how the organisation has made history by being the first law firm in Australia to provide gender-equal parental leave, and describes some of the challenges and benefits.

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“You need to know what to do if you feel uncomfortable”: Why school-based sex education is important for all ages

While Victoria’s Respectful Relationships curriculum has had its critics, many believe primary prevention methods are the best way to move the dial on community attitudes to gender violence. In today’s policy analysis piece, Katrina Marson (@katrinaellen72) reviews the research in this area and reports on best practice with primary school-aged children in the U.K.

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The bidirectional relationship between financial hardship and women’s mental health

The Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System provides an opportunity to consider the social and economic factors that contribute to poor mental health using a gender lens. This piece by Sarah Squire (@SquireSarah) and Policy Whisperer Susan Maury (@SusanMaury) of Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand (@GoodAdvocacy) explores how financial hardship and stress contribute to poor mental health, drawing on case studies and reflections from practitioners in Good Shepherd services. This is the third in a 4-part series based on Good Shepherd’s submission; Part 1 provides an overview of the gendered nature of mental health, while Part 2 discusses the related issue of economic inequality.

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New empirical research reveals the distinctive experiences of women in bankruptcy

Recent research published by Melbourne Law School offers new insight into the contrasting circumstances of men and women in bankruptcy. In it,  Lucinda O’Brien, Professor Ian Ramsay and Associate Professor Paul Ali, each from Melbourne Law School find that public data does not fully reflect the differences between men and women in the bankruptcy system, or the extent to which women’s bankruptcies are caused by gender-specific factors.

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Racial and Gender Justice for Aboriginal Women in Prison

Last week was NAIDOC week - a week set aside for non-Indigenous Australians to “increase [their]awareness… of the status and treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.” Today’s post, by Zuleyka Zevallos (@othersociology) shares her listening and learning to the unjust experiences of Indigenous women in the criminal justice system. This piece first appeared at Other Sociologist.

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Economic inequality can deteriorate women’s mental health

This blog is the second in a four-part series on women’s mental health. As the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System continues its public hearings there is an opportunity to consider the social and economic factors that contribute to poor mental health using a gender lens. This piece by Sarah Squire (@SquireSarah) and Susan Maury (@SusanMaury) of @GoodAdvocacy explores how economic inequality contributes to poor mental health among women, drawing on reflections from practitioners in Good Shepherd services. You can read the first in this series here.

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Why a gender lens on mental health is critical

Last week the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System held its first public hearings. The Royal Commission is an opportunity to consider the social and economic factors that contribute to poor mental health using a gender lens. With significant investment in men’s mental health in recent years, it is timely to switch focus and consider women’s experiences and how the mental health service system and other institutions are responding to their needs. Sarah Squire (@SquireSarah) and Susan Maury (@SusanMaury) of @GoodAdvocacy summarise some of the gender differences in prevalence, diagnosis and treatment in the first of a four part series.

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Taking the pulse on men’s parenting and care work: The State of the World’s Fathers

The third iteration of the global report The State of the World’s Fathers was launched on 16 June, at the Women Deliver Global Conference in Vancouver, Canada. The bi-annual report highlights progress and gaps for equalising care in 7 OECD countries, as well as analysis from five countries in the Global South. The report importantly also tracks changes in attitudes and social norms. Today’s analysis provides a summary of the report, an initiative of the MenCare Campaign (@MenCareGlobal), which is led by Promundo (@Promundo-US). Australia is in dire need of more progressive policies that enable men to take an active role in parenting and caring; this global overview provides important insights for how it can be done well.

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Do the Hustle: How I make ends meet as a single parent

The Coalition’s stance on income support is “the best form of welfare is a job.” For many people on The Newstart Allowance, however, one job doesn’t cut it. In today’s analysis, the insightful Juanita McLaren (@defrostedlady) takes us through her tax return to demonstrate how Welfare to Work policies incentivise decisions around employment, education, income support and debt for single mothers.

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Mitigating the child penalty: Policy problem or social norms?

The child penalty is a significant driver of the gender pay gap, which points to a solution through more progressive policies. Today’s analysis compares six OECD countries which reflect a range of progressive policies to support women into employment. The analysis highlights a powerful determinant of the gender pay gap external to policy solutions - social norms. This article originally appeared in VoxEU.org under the title “Child penalties across countries: Evidence and explanations”, and is authored by Henrik Klevin, Camille Landais, Johanna Posch, Andreas Steinhauer, and Josef Zeimüller.

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What do we mean when we talk about ‘gender’ and family violence?

There is currently an unprecedented interest at both Federal and State levels to address family violence in a holistic and meaningful way. In today’s analysis, Sophie Yates (@DrSophieYates) of UNSW Canberra (@PSResearchG) shares her insights into the various ways that practitioners in the family violence sector talk about gender and how their various conceptions of the term impact on their practice. The article she published on this topic recently netted her the inaugural Rosemary O’Leary Prize for outstanding scholarship on women in public administration. This piece was originally published in the LSE Engenderings blog under the title “Big G and small g: Understanding gender and its relationship to family violence.”

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Thanks for asking… Mothers say ParentsNext puts parents last

With the outcome of the recent federal election, the Coalition’s ‘pre-employment’ program known as ParentsNext looks set to continue indefinitely. While a recent Senate Inquiry found the program to be deeply flawed and often harmful to participants, the program is not without its defenders. In today’s piece, Ella Buckland (@EllaNBuckland), who has become a strong advocate for women who are enrolled and is leading a petition to have the program made voluntary, writes about her own experiences and those of other mothers who are on the program in an effort to set the record straight on the program’s merits.

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Mind the gender gap: The hidden data gap in transport

There has been much lament over the discarding of Australia’s Women’s Budget Statement as part of the budgeting process, and reinstating this process was one of Labor’s promises should they have won the election. While this is an absolutely critical document, there is an upstream problem that also needs addressing - data collection. The data which is collected and analysed is often itself subject to gender bias, resulting in huge gaps in our understanding of how policies effect women.

Today’s analysis looks at the problem of women’s invisibility in data sets using the example of transportation policy. Transport policy researcher Nicole Badstuber (@NicoleBadstuber) has written an explosive piece that resonated strongly with readers in the U.K. but also hit a nerve with Australians, as evidenced by a viral tweet on the piece from Per Capita’s Abigail Lewis. This piece originally appeared in London Reconnections and can be viewed in its original format here.

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