After months of advocacy alongside sister Women’s Health Services across the state and Gender Equity Victoria, Women’s Health Goulburn North East (WHGNE) was buoyed by the Victorian budget for 2020/21, announced yesterday, which included promising investments for women, gender-diverse people and our diverse communities.

 

While the budget did not deliver on all the Women’s Health Services’ asks, it did offer the much-needed step towards a gender-equal response to the pandemic and to the 2019-20 bushfires before it, that the federal budget failed to deliver in October.

 

“Women’s Health Goulburn North East welcomes the investment by the state government in both our community and women’s health and wellbeing in general,” WHGNE CEO Amanda Kelly said.

 

“In particular, the reinvestment in the Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund as well as a focus on agriculture, infrastructure and technology that will benefit our region is exciting to see.”

 

Among the budget announcements that have the potential to change the game for women in Victoria – including those living in rural and regional areas – were:

 

  • $631 million for free TAFE and subsidised training places, including $155 million to provide access to those most impacted by the pandemic, with a focus on getting more women back into the workforce
  • $150 million to support 6900 women into job placements, of which $50 million is for women over 45
  • $238 million for family violence prevention and response measures
  • $170 million to support women’s workforce participation, by providing free kindergarten in eligible services in 2021
  • $82 million to increase the availability of outside school hours care
  • $33 million to expand opportunities for apprentices and trainees, with a particular focus on supporting more women into the construction sector
  • $17 million to help women find new opportunities in sectors such as transport, construction and startup innovation

 

“While we missed out on some of the things that were on our  ‘wishlist’, we have come away from yesterday’s announcement feeling positive,” Ms Kelly said.

 

“What this budget says to us is that the state government is beginning the hard work necessary to reshape the systems and structures that have led to the economic and social inequality experienced by women in Victoria.

 

“The funding of kindergarten and out-of-school care is significant for this reason – it’s helping to lighten the domestic burden that we know is disproportionately borne by women.

 

“Similarly, the investment in women’s entrepreneurial skills and training, particularly in those sectors that have traditionally been male-dominated spheres, helps to shift the cultural paradigm around ‘women’s work’ and ‘men’s work’.

 

“We’re also thrilled to see the $37.8 million investment in gender equality initiatives, with $11.2 million to support the Gender Equality Act, $16.9 million for Gender Equality programs and $9.7 million for family violence prevention for migrant and refugee communities.

 

“To us, this is a real demonstration of the value the state government places on our collective progress towards gender equality.

 

“And though we know that one budget is not going to be a silver bullet when it comes to our recovery from Covid-19 or the realisation of equality, it’s a crucial and welcome first big step.”

 

For more information on collective advocacy in the lead-up to the Victorian budget, as led by Gender Equity Victoria, visit www.genvic.org.au/media-releases/victorian-budget-is-a-good-start-towards-a-gender-equal-recovery/