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Putting the $ back in O$W.

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Media Release - 23 May 2001

Putting the $ back in O$W 'In a welcome change from past years, this year's women's budget statement actually included specific spending for women, women's organisations and women's issues as distinct from our roles as mothers, carers and the supporters of families', said Women's Electoral Lobby National Spokeswoman Erica Lewis.

'New spending on the Women's Development Programme ($5.6 million) and Informed Choices for Australian Women ($5.5 million) create the opportunity for the Government to recognise and expand its support for the vital role that women's organisations play in raising, researching and addressing the gendered implications of policy. Hopefully this increase in the budget for the Office of the Status of Women will increase the status of the Office.

'The Women's Budget statement is always a fascinating reflection of the Government's perception of what is and is not "women's spending", so we would note the inclusion of the Review of Nursing Education and the Postgraduate Education Loans Scheme in the Women's Budget statement.

'The Review of Nursing Education may affect what is a largely female workforce and student body, but is it actually a women's budget initiative particularly given that it had already been announced and doesn't include a financial commitment? Perhaps we really need to also be looking at the lack of doctors in regional areas and the increasing demands put on trainee doctors? As does ACOSS, we question the point in putting nurses into regional areas without doctors as well - there is too much pressure and not enough qualifications to deal with the load.

'As for Postgraduate study, it seems perverse that the PELP scheme is included in the women's budget papers, as the reason this scheme is necessary is because of the introduction of up-front fees - which severely limited women's access to Continuing Higher Education.

'Many of the initiatives in the Women's Budget statement are drawn from more general expenditure so it is a pleasant surprise to see specific women's expenditure as part of this budget. It is also pleasing to see the inclusion of different categories of women in recognition that there is not one single outcome for women in any budget, but a series of different outcomes for different women.

'In the future we would like to see the role of gender analysis of government expenditure not limited to an adjunct to the budget but as a mainstreamed approach to all expenditure processes. This would generate a comprehensive breakdown of the effect of government policies on women in each budget and also utilise indicators that recognise the huge contribution (mostly in unpaid work) that women make to economy.'

For further comment please contact:

  Erica Lewis Eva Cox Sandy Killick