Federal Budget 2024: Kate Emery analyses what is the Budget is really doing for women

Kate Emery
The Nightly
3 Min Read
Health was a significant focus in the 2024 Federal Budget.
Health was a significant focus in the 2024 Federal Budget. Credit: The Nightly

More money for doing your job. Better help if your internal plumbing is a bit iffy. Less chance of being murdered by your partner. That’s the promise to women under the Albanese Government.

Getting women into well-paying jobs – or paying them more for the one they already do – helping them leave violent relationships and making it easier to get gynecological and maternity help are the cornerstones of this year’s budget for women.

All that and making sure everyone with a pair of x chromosomes knows they will be the biggest winners under the revamped tax cuts, which will leave 6.5 million working women better off while also definitely not making inflation worse.

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Somehow.

Get the stirrups and speculum ready, is very much the subtext behind a welcome $160m cash splash on women’s health – that’s 2024-25 spending commitments – that includes subsidised gynecological appointments, longer midwife visits and research into menopause, pregnancy loss and infertility.

The word menopause appears 21 times in Minister for Women Katy Gallagher’s 2024-25 women’s budget, which I suspect is about 21 times more than would have been the case just ten years ago.

There’s even money to boost access to long-term contraception like IUDs for those women who are disinclined to heed Jim Chalmers’ advice to knock out a kid for the good of the nation.

Extra money for aged care and childcare staff – well-flagged by a Treasurer so opposed to delivering surprises he probably struggled to play peekaboo with his kids – will disproportionately benefit women because they’re over-represented in those industries.

That cash splash includes $87.2m to support, attract and retain aged care staff and a bag with a dollar sign on it to boost early childhood education wages. Just how big the dollar sign on that bag is will depend on a Fair Work Commission ruling in its annual wage review next month.

Existing programs that aim to get women into STEM careers – which is where the Government sees the big bucks of the future, particularly in the priority industries of clean energy, construction and manufacturing – will be beefed up with $38.2m over eight years.

The Government will spend nearly $40m cracking down on gender-based violence on university campuses, with both a national higher education code and the creation of a national student ombudsman, whose job will involve investigating student complaints – including but not limited to sexual harassment, assault and violence.

That’s pin money compared to the – also well flagged - $925.2m over five years to be spent offering financial support to help victims of domestic abuse leave and the $1 billion housing package aimed at boosting crisis accommodation for women and children.

This time last year I wrote of the 2023-24 budget that then-newish Labor Government was less desperate to woo women voters than the Coalition had been and it showed in their restraint.

This year’s budget doesn’t have the desperation of a 2022 Liberal Government trying to win back women voters turned off by Canberra’s sexual harassment and assault scandals.

It does, however, have the whiff of a Government that has remembered women account for just over half of the voting public and that women really like being paid a good wage, having their health concerns taken seriously and not being murdered.

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