Fair Agenda Blog

Nurses, teachers

Just a few days before Christmas the Government launched a new attack on Paid Parental Leave. It was part of a classic move known in political circles as ‘taking out the trash’ -- announcing a series of terrible new policies all together, at a time when you know most people won’t be reading the news. And so far the Government have been getting away with it.

But here’s the good news: despite the holiday season, Fair Agenda members across the country dug deep and chipped in to crowdfund an expert report to break down what the proposal will mean for families - to cut through the government’s spin, and show that these cuts are both unsound and unfair.

Today Fair Agenda have launched that report - created by the experts at the Women and Work Research Group at the University of Sydney. 

Here's the top line:

  • We can expect that approximately 79,000 women would be adversely affected by this proposed cut.

  • Analysis of the impact of the proposed cuts on some example families shows that nurses, teachers, ambulance service workers and retail workers will be hit hard by the proposed changes. Under the government’s proposed cuts, the primary carers in our case studies would be left with the equivalent of just 7 – 13 weeks of their family's living costs. That’s less than half of the 26 weeks experts recommend. The financial loss suffered by these families would range from $3,942 to $10,512.

  • Given what experts know about how women in Australia use parental leave, they expert that the proposed cuts will:
    • prevent more women from spending critical time at home with their new baby;
    • lead to financial duress;
    • reduce the number of women able to afford to stay at home for 26 weeks and thus adversely impact on the health and welfare outcomes of new babies and mothers; and
    • increase demand for childcare for the very young, in a system that is already struggling to keep up with demand.

The report also shows that if the cuts are approved, we can expect negative flow on impacts for new families, and the communities in which they live. 

The good news is that there's still a chance to stop these cruel cuts from becoming a reality.

The fate of these cuts will be decided by the Senate cross bench, and we know that they've been influenced by community backlash to proposed cuts to parental leave before. In fact, the only reason the government have announced these new cuts is because the original cuts proposed by former Treasurer Joe Hockey on Mother's Day were so unpopular with the community they couldn't get them passed through the Senate.

Can you help make sure the Senate cross bench know where the community stand on these new proposed cuts?

  • Sign your opposition to the cuts on our petition here:  www.fairagenda.org/ppl
  • Or, if you've already signed, email your local cross bench Senator asking them to oppose the cuts today:
    • Victorians: Email Senator Ricky Muir and Senator John Madigan
    • Queenslanders: Email Senator Glenn Lazarus
    • Tasmanians: Email Senator Jacqui Lambie
    • West Australians: Email Senator Dio Wang
    • South Australians: Email Senator Nick Xenophon (note: Senator Xenophon has already indicated to media he plans to oppose these cuts, so please send him a message thanking him for indicating that he will oppose the cuts)
    • Live in another state/territory? Based on previous reports it appears all Government Senators intend to vote for the changes, and that Labor and Greens Senators will oppose them. Other cross bench Senators David Leyonhjelm and Bob Day have indicated they support cuts to paid parental leave. So rather than targeting your local Senators, we'd love your help engaging your friends with the campaign. Can you share this report with your friends and ask them to sign their opposition to the cuts? Click here to share this post on Facebook.


Click below to access the full report:

Written by Renee Carr
13 January 2016

It's a bad start to the festive season. But here's the good news: we've already won on this issue once. According to Fairfax, the Minister today said "the government was 'reconfiguring [its original cuts] after the backlash", and told reporters he was still in negotiations with the Senate crossbenchers about these new cuts – that means our campaigning is working, and there's still a chance for us to stop this.

The government is trying to sell its new announcement as an improvement -- but measured against Joe Hockey's Mother's Day announcements, anything would look good. 

The reality is that at the core of their proposal there is still a massive cut to the time parents will be able to afford to spend nurturing their newborn in the critical first year. And with women still making up 99% of those accessing paid parental leave, we can expect any cuts will disproportionately impact on women. With a pay gap of almost 18%, and economic disparities between women and men often manifesting at motherhood, this cut would drag us in exactly the wrong direction.

It’s important to remember the details of the system we have in place right now. Under that system a primary carer can access 18 weeks of paid leave at the minimum wage. This is part of a combined leave package that they can then top up with any additional leave they've negotiated with their employer, to help them cover costs while they stay at home caring for their new baby.

With these new, repackaged cuts, instead of providing 18 weeks of guaranteed minimum support to eligible mum or dad, the government want to leave these parents with access to a maximum of 18 weeks leave.

What does that mean exactly? Well, looking at the case study of the impact on a part-time nurse working in Victoria who is entitled to 10 weeks of employer provided care time for a new baby…

  • Under the current scheme, they would receive 18 weeks of minimum wage support from the government ($11,826) – topped up by 10 weeks of employer provided care they have negotiated into their contract ($7,200). That comes to a total of $19,026 – or enough for two parents and a newborn to cover living expenses for about 11 weeks.
  • Under what we understand as the government’s proposed new scheme, a nurse would receive 10 weeks of employer care ($7,200), and then the government would then only provide support to bring their supported leave time up to 18 weeks. So the nurse would receive 8 weeks of government leave at the minimum wage ($5,256). That would leave the new family with just $12,456. That’s enough to cover the family’s expenses for about 7 weeks.

Remember that experts recommend a new parent should have 26 weeks leave as the minimum amount of time off work to provide health and welfare benefits to both the mother and newborn. 

Any cut to parental leave is bad for the country and bad for families. As a society we all have a responsibility to make sure our children are cared for in the most nurturing environments. We all have a stake in ensuring the next generation has a bright future. Paid time at home for new parents and affordable childcare is the best way to keep our country strong. That’s why we should be extending the time parents can stay home – not cutting it. 

If the response to the government’s last announcement has demonstrated anything, it’s that attacks on families and new parents aren’t popular with their voters, which is no doubt why they’ve added a tied component to today’s announcement – proposed changes to the eligibility test, one that will allow more casual workers and women in hazardous jobs to claim payments. That is a positive proposal, but one that shouldn’t be tied to cutting the time tens of thousands of other parents have to care for their baby; or dragging our country’s parental leave policy backwards.

That’s why it’s critical we let our Senators know we oppose any cuts to parental leave.

The good news is campaigning from communities like ours has already forced the government to abandon its proposals once.  After former Treasurer Joe Hockey announced the first proposal to cut parental leave on Mother’s Day this year thousands of Fair Agenda members came together to sign our opposition to any cuts to parental leave. Then, in the months that followed, as the government tried to negotiate those cuts through the Senate, we worked tirelessly to show the critical cross bench members the extent of community opposition to this change.

Over months we placed calls into their offices, sent them emails, requested meetings about the topic – and Queensland Fair Agenda members even nabbed a meeting with Senator Glenn Lazarus, delivered petition signatures and powerful personal messages from other Queensland voters opposed to the cuts.

When we work together and talk about what the government’s changes mean for our families and communities, we can influence decision-makers and sway votes.

There are 6 cross-bench Senators who could be potential allies on this topic. Can you give them a call?


Senator Ricky Muir. Call him on (03) 5144 3639. Click here for more details.

Senator John Madigan. Call him on (03) 5331 2321. Click here for more details.

South Australians

Senator Nick Xenophon. Call him on (08) 8232 1144. Click here for more details.


Senator Glenn Lazarus. Call him on (07) 3001 8940. Click here for more details.


Senator Jacqui Lambie. Call her on (03) 6431 2233. Click here for more details.

West Australians

Senator Dio Wang. Call him on (08) 9486 9650. Click here for more details.


If you haven't joined the campaign yet, sign up at www.fairagenda.org/ppl


Paid parental leave: Government to change proposed offerings, Social Services Minister confirms, ABC News, 16 December 2015.

MYEFO: Christian Porter finds $36 million to soften double-dipping, The Australian, 16 December 2015.

Written by Renee Carr
16 December 2015

There’s nothing quite like peeling open an envelope to find a lovely message from an old friend to remind you of the real meaning of Christmas.

And as I opened my first card this week, it got me thinking, what better way to send budget decision-makers a message at this time of year than by Christmas card?

As our leaders head back to their electorate offices to wrap up work for the year and order their Christmas hampers, they’ll be expecting us to fall silent about the horrific number of women who have been killed or abused by their partners this year.

But instead, can you help me make sure -- in the best tradition of the season -- we’re sending the Treasurer dozens of Christmas messages reminding him of what really matters: making sure no woman is left in danger?

Click here to buy one of Fair Agenda's special Christmas cards and we'll handwrite your message in and get it into the Treasurer's post box.

For me the true spirit of the festive season is in doing good for others - so I hope you’ll join me and advocating for the funding needed to ensure the many women who will be experiencing abuse this Christmas aren't left without the service support they need to escape their abuser.

The festive season is supposed to be one of love and celebration – but without full funding of family violence services, too many women will be left in danger this summer. Things have to change. That’s why it’s critical we show our leaders we won’t rest until no woman is left in danger.

Buy one of our Christmas cards and we’ll send your message to the Treasurer in a way he’ll least expect.

These cards are part of something much bigger and more powerful than any single message or action. Since the last budget - when the government effectively ignored the family violence crisis - we’ve been working together to build the constant community pressure it will take to win change on this issue. Fair Agenda members have joined together to take thousands of actions, publish critical reports and drive hard-hitting media coverage of family violence. Together, we’ve won funding for one critical front-line service – now can you help us show our budget-decision makers we’re not going to stop until they commit the funding needed to ensure no woman is left in danger?

NB: If you can't afford to buy one of the cards, send us an email at [email protected] with your name, address and a message you'd like to send the Treasurer and we'll work to try and deliver your message in another creative way.


-- If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000. --


Written by Renee Carr
11 December 2015

Fair Agenda are excited to invite our Melbourne supporters to a special pre-release screening of the new film Suffragette at Cinema Nova at 7pm, Thursday 10th December! (Click here to buy tickets)


Following the story of a young laundress speaking out against a broken system - Suffragette is a gripping film that shows the power of women's campaigns and movements to transform our society (if you haven't seen the trailer yet, check it out here). It's the first feature film to focus on the story of the foot soldiers of the Suffragette movement - and we're very excited to share it with you!

The stories we tell are important. And all too often the stories told in our cinemas aren't about women. In fact in 2014, research showed that women made up just 12% of protagonists in the top-grossing films of 2014; and only 30% of speaking characters. And amongst the 2015 Oscar Best Picture nominees, only 2 of the films even passed the Bechdel test.

That's why we're so excited there's now a feature film about suffragettes. That's also why it's important we acknowledge Suffragette only tells the story of one group of women - and it doesn't share the story of women of colour. Women like Sophia Duleep Singh, a pioneering suffragette who marched alongside Emmeline Pankhurst in protests outside parliament, who was thrown into prison for taking part in the 'No vote, no tax' campaign, and who even threw herself in front of the Prime Minister's car.

We hope you'll join us at this special screening event, and post screening discussion with our special guests Celeste Liddle and Dr Clare Wright, where we'll chat about:

  • The history of the suffragette and feminist movement in Australia - including the fight to recognise Aboriginal women's right to vote, which continued until 1965, 
  • The ongoing fight for women's rights and campaigns to drive change in Australia right now, and
  • Lessons we can learn from the Suffragettes and other women who have shaped our history.

Funds raised from the night will go towards Fair Agenda's campaigns for a fair and equal future for women.

Buy your tickets here.




Written by Renee Carr
28 November 2015

Today is White Ribbon Day, but instead of committing the additional funds needed to to actually address the family violence crisis, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and new Social Services Minister Christian Porter held a tone-deaf press conference that was long on rhetoric and short on substance – vaguely re-stating their existing, insufficient commitments and leaving out any mention of the current funding crisis limiting family violence services.

Put simply: this is a wildly insufficient response to the family violence crisis, and means the Government is choosing to deliberately leave women in danger.

Most of the critical family violence and prevention and response services fall under Minister Porter’s portfolio - which means that his choice as the new Minister is to fully fund family violence services - or to continue leaving thousands of women without access to the specialist support they need to escape their abusers.

This morning shows he doesn’t yet get it.

Can you take a few minutes to send Minister Porter a quick personal email and build the pressure for him to do the right thing and commit full funding for family violence services?

Today is the new Minister's first big moment in spotlight on the biggest hot-button issue in his portfolio. Tonight he’s up for a grilling on a special family violence-focussed episode of Q&A, straight after the second instalment of the investigative doco Hitting Home on ABC. There’s no doubt he’ll have to field tough questions on this topic. Let’s make sure he’s feeling the pressure from all directions.

Now is the perfect opportunity to make sure our message – that nothing except full-funding is good enough – is all that he hears, all night long.

We’re a part of something really big right now. National outrage about the family violence crisis is growing. Last night Liberal MP Sarah Henderson broke down in Parliament talking about a friend who was murdered in a family violence incident,[1] tomorrow night another hard-hitting documentary Call Me Dad airs on ABC, and Rosie Batty will be calling for further action in the Victorian Parliament.

Yesterday, Fair Agenda members kicked off a powerful letter writing campaign to build champions within the government lobbying budget decision makers internally. Today we need to ramp up our efforts and make sure Minister Porter knows he’ll be held accountable on this issue.

Together, with a big community backlash and working contacts in the media, we can help build the pressure o the Minister to commit increased funding for these potentially life-saving services. 

Can you help make this coordinated effort even bigger by sending a personal email to Minister Porter? Click here for the Minister's contact deatils and tips to get started.

The political establishment needs to know that anything less than full funding for services is unacceptable, and we won’t let it slide.


1. Liberal MP Sarah Henderson makes emotional plea to break 'cycle of domestic violence' after friend's death, ABC News, 25 November 2015.

If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.auIn an emergency, call 000. -

Written by Renee Carr
25 November 2015
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