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Stay-at-home mums shut out of workforce -

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ELEANOR HALL: A report into the impact of the economic downturn has found that unemployment is
hitting Australian women much harder than men.

Official unemployment statistics suggest that men and women are equally at risk.

But the Australia Institute says there are also the 'hidden' unemployed and that 80 per cent of
these Australians are women.

Felicity Ogilvie has been finding out why.

FELICITY OGILVIE: Tasmanian woman Kate Routley recently moved to the small coastal town of Swansea
with her partner and two young children.

She used to run her own business, but now Miss Routley is staying home to care for her children.

KATE ROUTLEY: I would love to go back to work at some stage for lots of reasons - for my own sort
of peace of mind and my own ability to be able to get out there and talk to adults.

But at this stage I have chosen not to go back to work. My children are really young and I realise
that they are only this little once and I guess, also living in Swansea I am limited to the work
opportunities that are down here.

It would all be based on minimum wages and once I sort of start paying out childcare and then what
I would actually earn, it makes it very unenticing to go back to work.

FELICITY OGILVIE: She's not alone. A report by the Australia Institute estimates there's almost
400,000 stay-at-home mums aged between 25 and 44 who want to go back to work but can't.

The report is not about mothers who want to be stay at home to care for their children because
they're not classified as unemployed.

The report's author, David Richardson, says 80 per cent of Australia's hidden unemployed are
stay-at-home mums who want to work outside the home.

DAVID RICHARDSON: Mainly they are women who are not recorded as being unemployed by the Australian
Bureau of Statistics because their childcare duties are in the main prevent them from starting work
within the week.

So they fail to miss the ABS definition of unemployed but on further investigation, the surveys
show that they are still willing and able to work.

FELICITY OGILVIE: The Federal Government has been tackling unemployment by offering retraining for
the retrenched. But Mr Richardson describes those programs as 'blokey' and says they are
inappropriate for stay-at-home mums.

In his report he calls for specialised training that will help women get and job and says they also
need better childcare.

DAVID RICHARDSON: There is a particular problem where the children are roughly six to12 when the
ordinary childcare day centres are no longer suitable and what is required is care for before and
after school hours.

FELICITY OGILVIE: The Australia Institute's report was commissioned by the National Foundation for
Australian Women.

Marie Coleman is from the Women's Foundation - she says the report show's government policy is
ignoring the needs of modern women.

MARIE COLEMAN: Policies, as they stand were largely devised on an assumption of the white picket
fence, the husband as bread winner, the wife as the stay-at-home; and that is no longer the reality
for Australian women.

FELICITY OGILVIE: If that is no longer the reality for Australian women, how does policy need to
change?

MARIE COLEMAN: We need to make a lot of significant improvements in childcare. We need to rejig
what we are going with technical and further education.

We need to make sure that people understand the patterns of female work force attachment and
support them rather than subverting them.

FELICITY OGILVIE: Even if the stay-at-home mums do make it back into the workplace the report
paints it as still being very much a man's world.

DAVID RICHARDSON: Woman are likely to earn less in the same job but also they are more likely to
work part-time hours and they are more likely to have broken work histories.

So that by the time they retire, our modelling shows that once these superannuation system matures,
men's final payout is going to be something like 68 per cent bigger than women.

ELEANOR HALL: That is David Richardson from the Australia Institute ending that report by Felicity
Ogilvie.