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elizabeth broderick fights cuts to the paid parental leave scheme

Image by George Ruiz

Image by George Ruiz (CC BY 2.0)

 

Former Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Elizabeth Broderick, has warned that the proposed cuts to paid parental leave could further increase the gender pay gap.

Broderick, who fought for the paid parental leave scheme at the beginning of her career, told press last Wednesday that in order for Australian women to make progress, a strong paid parental leave scheme is vital.

‘Having a strong paid parental leave scheme is absolutely fundamental to women making progress in our nation,’ she said at the National Press Club.

The government is planning to save $1 billion by reducing the chances of new parents to access the tax-payer funded, 18-week minimum paid parental leave scheme, if the new parents are entitled to higher employer funded benefits.

Broderick says this amendment will have a detrimental effect on gender pay gaps that already exist.

‘I think any move to pare back the support that you need at a time when you’re welcoming a new baby into the family, or to pare back women’s ability to come into paid work, will mean that we just reinforce some of the gender gaps that currently exist for women,’ Ms Broderick said.

The Human Rights Commission has warned that not only will the cuts widen the gender pay gap, but they could also breach international human rights laws.

Broderick has already made a plea to the Senate to refuse the cuts to the paid parental leave scheme, but as she completed her eight-year term as commissioner last Friday, she hopes her successor will continue the fight.

Broderick formed a group in 2010 called ‘Champions of Change’, which includes 20 male CEOs and chairpersons of some of Australia’s biggest companies. Broderick said she hopes the group will use their influence to ensure the issue of women’s representation in leadership is looked at on a national business level.

Broderick has been lobbying the Champions of Change to help oppose the reductions to paid parental leave.

‘I can’t speak for the male champions of change but I know one of the things they are focusing on is that paid parental leave should not be a career detriment,’ she said.

Broderick also took the opportunity during her final public appearance as commissioner, to discuss other issues for women’s rights. She hopes her successor will not only take on the issue of parental leave, but will look at the problems surrounding domestic violence and gender inequality in general.

‘Gender equality is not a battle of the sexes, it’s a battle for equality, a battle that men and women must wage side-by-side. The empowerment of women is about the empowerment of humanity,’ Ms Broderick said.

‘Domestic violence and violence against women and their children is….the gravest human rights abuse that’s happening here in Australia today and if you just look at the data, the fact that two women a week this year have been murdered by men they know, most likely their intimate partner, is just beyond belief,’ she told press.

Let’s hope Broderick’s successor will fight to solve these ongoing issues with as much passion as Ms Broderick did.

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