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Saturday, July 24, 2021

ACT community sector addressing the gender pay gap

Canberra organisations within the community sector have banded together today for Equal Pay Day 2020.

The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS), YWCA Canberra and Women’s Legal Centre ACT are working together to highlight the ongoing gender pay gap experienced by women in the region and nationally.

“Although the median income of women in the ACT is higher than the national average, it is still significantly lower than men. In 2019, the gender pay gap in the ACT was 12.9%,” said ACTOSS CEO Emma Campbell.

“We know that women’s increasing participation in the workforce is concentrated in part-time work, which significantly reduces their income.

“While participation in part-time work allows for flexible working, it reminds us that women are disproportionately responsible for caring in families. The cost and availability of childcare, and the lack of supports for carers, are a major barrier to women’s participation in employment.”

The national gender pay gap was calculated at 14% in August 2020, by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency at the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The same statistics saw a 21.3% pay gap within the Healthcare and Social Assistance industry.

The group is calling on the ACT and federal governments to make reforms within the childcare sector, equal pay to educators and extending universal access to early childhood education.

YWCA Canberra CEO Frances Crimmins said the gender pay gap needed to be addressed, to tackle the issue of women’s poverty in Canberra.

“The short-term gender pay gap has significant, long-term consequences, in particular, women retiring with little or sometimes no superannuation and having much fewer savings to draw upon in times of crisis,” she said.  

“This is especially concerning for young women accessing superannuation early through the Australian Government’s COVID-19 Early Release of Super scheme.”

The 14% pay gap equates to an average difference of $253.60 per week.

Women’s Legal Centre ACT head of employment and discrimination practice, Bethany Hender, said the gender gap affects more than just income.

“While we can measure it in cents, the impacts of the gender pay gap are profound and limit women’s choices and options throughout their lives,” she said.  

“It can be a key reason women are more likely than their male partners to reduce their work hours, take time off, or resign completely to attend to caring or domestic duties.

“The impacts of the gender pay gap can prevent women from leaving an abusive relationship. We can see it in the high rate of poverty among women, particularly single parents.”

The collaboration is calling on the Federal Government to support closing the gender pay gap by continuing the Equal Renumeration Order supplementation.

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