Among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, Victorian women will share in the spoils of a $619 million jobs package to smash its “she-cession”.
Treasurer Tim Pallas on Tuesday made women and older Victorians a focus of his big-spending 2020/21 state budget, setting aside $250 million in wage subsidies to create 10,000 jobs.
It’s a far cry from the federal budget which was criticised for ignoring the plight of women, who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
At least $150 million will go towards employing women, with a third pledged to support those aged over 45.
A $10 million fund invites women to break into the male-dominated world of start-ups, while an extra $5 million will be pumped into a program to employ more females in the construction industry.
Another $13 million has also been committed to continue the implementation of Victoria’s Gender Equality Act, an Australian first.
“The pandemic has confirmed what we knew all along – women face an uphill battle every day in the workforce,” Victoria’s Minister for Women Gabrielle Williams said.
“Whether it’s breaking down barriers, turning a business idea into a reality or just juggling everything life throws at you, we’re making women the focus of our recovery.”
Gender Equality Victoria chief executive Tanja Kovac said the “she-cession” had cost women 109,000 jobs and the budget was an important first step to repairing the damage.
“We can’t have a two-lane recovery from COVID-19 where men are on a fast-track and women are on a slow lane to nowhere,” she told reporters.
“This budget creates jobs for women, but it’s going to take more than one budget cycle to resolve the impact of the pandemic.”
Ms Kovac said the budget acknowledged the need for gender-specific investment to help change employment outcomes for women.
“To look at $27 million for gender-equality programs across the state of Victoria and to support the pioneering work of the Gender Equality Act in this state – something that’s never before been delivered – we’re very pleased to see that investment,” she said.