Kate Gunn is the Chair of Security4Women (S4W) and President of the National Foundation for Australian Women (NFAW). Kate is an experienced company director and Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (FAICD). Kate is the Co-Founder and Director of Balance! Healthcare. Balance! Healthcare is a leader in multidisciplinary integrated healthcare, and runs the Blue Mountains and Cairns GP Super Clinics. She holds a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) from MGSM.
Commentaries by Kate Gunn:
18 August 2010
The Care Economy, do we really know what that is? It encompasses both macroeconomics and microeconomics. It is a relatively new but highly significant concept with increasing importance for the Australian economy and the economic wellbeing of citizens, especially women. In other words, it is complicated.
The provision of care has public good qualities with the benefits of providing care, both paid and unpaid, ‘spilling over’ to the wider community. As people who require care cannot exercise consumer rights in the way that well people can, the public goods aspect and impaired consumer sovereignty signal an important role for government policy and public funding to support both paid and unpaid care
It is very much an issue for women. Care work, both paid and unpaid, affects women’s economic wellbeing. Paid care services are characterised by a highly feminised workforce with high levels of casual and part-time employment. Informal caring impacts negatively on women’s lifetime earnings
The Care Economy is becoming a challenge to manage and is almost falling into that “too hard basket”. The population is ageing and longevity is increasing, whilst this means that we are all able to enjoy our lives longer with our families and friends, it also poses a challenge to the supply of caring.
This should be a high priority issue for the 2010 Election but as with the Pay Equity it appears to be a non-issue from either candidate. Well maybe they are lucky enough to not be affected.
4 August 2010
The Gender Pay Gap should be one of the current issues raised in the Election Campaign but at this stage it has not been highlighted as an issue by either party. It would appear that our new Prime Minister is one of a few women in Australia that is fortunate enough to be earning the same salary as her predecessors unlike the rest of us who continue to earn 17% less for the same job. Well let’s hope that is the case and that she is not oblivious to the situation.
Unlike the Opposition Leader who has publically acknowledged that women earn less than men when he put on the record that in relation to the Paid Parental Leave “dad’s should be paid at the mum’s rate”. Clearly this is to save the bottom line as men do earn more than women. Instead of stating that dad’s should take a salary cut to look after their new born, maybe he should have been focusing on eradicating the Gender Pay Gap. Interesting thought!
There is a lack of awareness of the gendered choice of occupations in terms of life-long economic security and there needs to be a set of electronic business tools to ensure improved gender pay equity in businesses with less than 100 employees (SMEs) as more than 1.5 million work in this sector. This is an important issue and should be high on the list for the 2010 Election. The ‘Making it Fair’ report recommendations need to be implemented.
I would like to see, as I am sure everyone reading the commentaries submitted by this Panel would, that each candidate make an active commitment to lead pay equity from within the government at both the state and national levels.
4 July 2010
A Female Prime Minister and Paid Parental Leave
The last couple of weeks have certainly been historic for Australian women.
First, Legislation for Australia’s first Paid Parental Leave scheme passed the Parliament on 17th June. This was certainly a victory for the many Australians who have campaigned over the years for a Paid Parental Leave scheme. This is, definitely, a starting point for women bearing children to have some economic security on maternity leave. This scheme will benefit all families and in particular many women in low paid jobs and in the private sector who currently lack any access to paid parental leave.
To top the PPL historic event on the 24th June 2010 we watched history in the making as The Hon. Julia Gillard MP was appointed the Prime Minister of Australia. This was a momentous occasion for all women in Australia and for women’s leadership. As Tony Abbott so eloquently put it on 3AW “This proves that no job is barred to anyone”. That is a correct statement and something women have been striving to achieve for decades. I hope the next step will be that equal pay for equal job becomes standard and the Gender Pay Gap closed.
4 June 2010
Paid Parental Leave
Over the past couple of months there has been a lot of discussion both in the Public and Private sectors about the Paid Parental Leave Scheme. The Government has been committed to their 2009-10 Budget promise and I am delighted that the Oppostiion has formally stated its intention to allow the enactment of this Bill in the current Session in order for its administration to begin from 1 January 2011.
National Foundation of Australian Women and many women’s organisations including Economic Security4Women have worked hard to clarify with all parliamentary parties that; the Government's Bill is a necessary first step in developing any national scheme; that immediate passage of the Bill as an essential, and we look to enhancements over time.
No doubt there will still be some stimulating exchanges over the next few weeks as the Opposition and the Greens seek to make amendments, but passage of the Bill- with or without amendments, is now assured.
I stand by my comment in an earlier commentary that the Government’s Paid Parental Leave policy is a starting point for women bearing children to have some economic security on maternity leave. I believe that this scheme will benefit many women in low paid jobs, and in the private sector who currently lack any access to paid parental leave.
18 May 2010
Henry Report, the Budget and Women
There has been a lot of commentary since the Henry Report on Australia’s Future Tax System last week and the Government’s response. Small to medium enterprises (SME’s) will have up-front tax relief which is a positive outcome since most SME’s are usually headed by women. This will also be helpful with the soon to be introduced Paid Parental Leave and should lessen the administrative issues for SME employers of women taking PPL. This is an important issue to me being one of those women who head up a SME.
Unfortunately, even though the increase to the Compulsory Superannuation Guarantee to 12% appears to be a great move on the Government part, I’m wondering if the Government thought about the adverse impact this would have on the capacity of low income women and whether the increase in the Superannuation amount the company has to pay will affect their take home income on which they live on. Of course a lot of the impact could be solved by abolishing the current 17% gender wage gap. Unfortunately, there has been no mention of recommendations on Pay Equity from the House of Representatives report “Making it Fair.”
As mentioned in my previous commentary the care economy is an important issue. It is important to note that Henry did make recommendations about financing aged care services. The Government has made reference of the issue of financing aged care to the Productivity Commission. Let’s hope they follow-through.
It is important to note that the Henry Report made a number of important recommendations concerning enhancing female work-force including enhancing provisions for and funding regimes for child care, contingent on work-force attachment for parents once a child reaches 4 years of age. I have strong reservations about this proposal and am pleased the Government rejected it. However, the issues around work-life balance do need to be explored further.
There is not much for women in the 2010-2011 Federal Budget, especially in the area of Childcare. The recommendations of the Senate Standing Committee on Education, Employment and Workplace Relations’ report, Provision of Childcare received no uptake or funding. Childcare rebates are being capped back to 2008 level of $7,500 annually, $278 less than what the rebate has been for the past two years and the Family Day Care Start Up Payment will cease. I believe these actions will have a rippling effect on the accessibility to childcare as there is a growing need for more childcare facilities in the city. Of course, the Government will be funding fully government funded centres which operate in rural, remote and Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander communities. As mentioned in my previous commentary there is a lack of affordable, accessible, acceptable quality childcare and clearly there is a need for Government to increase funding towards childcare in all areas of Australia instead of lowering it in some.
4 May 2010
CHILDREN AND THE CARE ECONOMY
As mentioned in my previous commentary, Security4Women’s core focus is on economic security for all women. We believe supporting parents through affordable, accessible, quality child and after school hours care is an important issue that needs to be addressed by Government. I think we would all agree that Government has a role in child care with supporting the development of children and the participation of parents in the work force.
Currently most child care centres’ and provider organisations’ revenue comes almost entirely from payments by individual users, who drawn on the Child Care Benefit, Child Care Tax Rebate or their own funds. As we know through extensive research these revenue sources unfortunately do not guarantee quality child and after school hours care and do not reach the majority of working parents inAustralia.
The lack of availability of affordable, accessible, acceptable quality care for school aged children out of school hours including during vacations, is a major cause of disadvantage in relation to women’s workforce participation. I believe there is a most urgent need for significant policy and program changes at Commonwealth level if the needs of school age children and young people, and needs of their working mothers, are to be met. I would suggest that all women inAustraliajoin together to support a policy change for this initiative.
Another important issue is the care economy. The majority of care is provided by women with the erroneous assumption that the supply of care is infinitely elastic, whether it is paid or unpaid. Of importance is the tension between unpaid work in the home, voluntary work in the community and paid work in the market. I find “Caring” is an ambiguous notion which encompasses physical care, which can be provided independently of a relationship between the carer and the care recipient, and emotional care in which the person caring is inseparable from the care given. Women should, when taking on the role of carer, not have to have the extra burden of wondering whether they will lose their financial stability.
2 April 2010
Economic wellbeing and financial security for achieving equity for women
I am a Chief Executive Officer, a single mother and the Chair of both the National Foundation for Australian Women (NFAW) and Economic Security4Women (S4W). Apart from being very busy, I am also committed to progressing the role of women in society and I am delighted to be able to share my thoughts with you prior to the next election.
While it is almost impossible to select THE Most important topics we should focus on, I believe the most tangible outcomes can be gained by focusing on the areas of Paid Parental Leave, Women in the Care Economy and the long-term issue of Equal Pay.
I was very excited a couple of weeks ago that the Minster Minister for the Status of Women, the Hon Tanya Plibersek MP, announced that S4W would continue their work as one of the new Six National Women’s Alliances and that our priorities of improving women’s economic independence and financial security were in line with that of the Government.
I believe that S4W’s focus of economic wellbeing and financial security are essential ingredients to achieving equity for women and will enable women of all ages to have an equal place in society. The ability to achieve positive economic outcomes impacts on all aspects of women's lives including their family, education, health, employment, housing and personal safety and can enable women to make informed choices.
I would like to see a substantial improvement in women’s access to sustainable employment and business enterprise; women’s access to relevant and affordable education and training, information and technology; provision of appropriate working conditions and advancement within employment; the rate of elimination of employment discrimination and occupational segregation; women’s control over economic resources; and recognition of women’s (actual and potential) role in the economy.
As Chair of S4W I recently signed on behalf of S4W to the Open Letter to Senators and MPS produced by National Foundation for Australian Women and regarding “Let’s Get Paid Parental Leave Happening in January 2011. We believe that the proposed Government’s Paid Parental Leave policy is a starting point for women bearing children to have some economic security on maternity leave. I believe that this scheme will benefit many women in low paid jobs, and in the private sector who currently lack any access to paid parental leave.