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newsletter issue 16 January 2010

women’s information

hotwire Still leading the way on women and money “A brilliant program, brilliantly managed and resourced.” “Very empowering, opened my eyes and made me see what was in front of me.” “Very valuable – every woman should have the opportunity to attend.” What women said of “Steps to Secure Your Financial Future” workshop series

WIRE is thrilled to be able to continue improving women’s confidence and knowledge in managing money and helping them make the best of their financial future. Along with Queen Victoria Women’s Centre and the Victorian Government through the Office of Women’s Policy, we have just completed Women & Money Month 2009, the second year of this three-year initiative. The six-month follow up evaluation from the 2008 workshops confirmed that we got it right! Women are feeling more confident in taking action to secure their own financial future. Ninety per cent of the women who participated in 2008 reported their attitude towards managing money has changed with 85 per cent reporting their skills have improved. Women and Money Month is a key initiative of the Women’s Financial Literacy Project and aims to help women improve their money management skills through the workshop series and seminar series. It saw the delivery

And now to young women and their credit use... WIRE report “Credit: Being in the red is the new black” is being completed and due for release in February or March. Funded by Consumer Affairs Victoria, this report explores the growing trend of younger women with increasing debt in Australia, and the possible reasons for it happening. The report examines younger women’s relationship with money and the factors influencing attitudes and behaviour. It seeks the most effective communication methods to educate younger women about credit and debt, and encourage healthier financial behaviour. So watch this space for the research findings...coming soon!

of “Steps to Securing Your Financial Future – Practical Workshops for Women” in 19 locations throughout Victoria (metropolitan, regional and rural). As well as the free seminar series at the Queen Victoria Women’s Centre in Melbourne, the workshop series were held in: • • • • • • • •

Barwon South West (Colac, Warrnambool) Gippsland (Bairnsdale, Korumburra) Hume (Echuca, Wangaratta) Grampians (Warracknabeal, Ballarat) Loddon Mallee (Bendigo, Castlemaine) Northern Metropolitan (Greensborough, Craigieburn) Western Metropolitan (Melton, Maribyrnong) Eastern Metropolitan (Vermont South, Upper Beaconsfield) • South Metropolitan (Cranbourne, Mornington) • CBD (Melbourne)

Our financial future: Cert. IV We have completed the first delivery of the Certificate IV in Training and Assessment (TAA40104) as 2009 ended. Participants loved completing this course through WIRE in the Queen Victoria Women’s Centre. Registrations are now open for our second course beginning in February 2010. Sessions will run on Tuesday evenings 6pm to 9pm (17 sessions) and Saturdays 10am to 5pm (3 sessions). The first session starts Tuesday evening 16 February. Registration is required by Tuesday 2 February 2010. Interested? Call Kate Whiting on (03) 9921 0870, email or check out for registration forms and payment details.

What does equal pay or pay equity mean? The bottom line is this: whether you’re a senior executive, factory line worker or salesgirl, you’re likely to be paid less than men. Many Australians believe that women won equal pay in the 1970s. But if you’re reading this, you’re probably one of a growing number of women who know that is not true. On average, Australian women still earn 17.5 per cent less than men, or one million dollars less over a lifetime.

Our labour market and social structures continue to discriminate against women in employment. While women have access to unprecedented levels of education and employment, we continue to shoulder most of the unpaid housework and childcare. A critical lack of childcare services and flexible work practices under the current outof-school hours and vacation-based system does not let most women combine both roles easily.

Put simply, pay equity means men and women receive the same hourly pay rate for work of equal (same job) or comparable value (meaning skills and qualifications required in female-dominated industries such as health care, social and community services are not valued less than those required in male-dominated industries such as plumbing or construction).

According to Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick, “The model is geared toward the traditional pattern of males working longer hours overtime before coming home to their families, so women are necessarily shut out of quality work.”

Equal pay is not just about equal wages. Equal pay takes into account discretionary pay, allowances, performance payouts, merit payments, bonus payments and superannuation. Equal pay means you are paid according to your skills, responsibilities and working conditions whether you are a nurse, childcare worker, lawyer or clerk; and not because of your gender. It means having easy access (as your male colleagues do) to training and promotions. It also means employing women and men more evenly across all industries, while having flexible working arrangements for both men and women to balance work and care more effectively. Equal pay for women will raise family income and give you more money to spend on food, housing and childcare. The Goldman Sachs report (1/12/09), Australia’s Hidden Resource: The Economic Case for Increasing Female Participation, states closing the gap between male and female employment in Australia will also boost Australia’s GDP by 11 per cent. For women in Australia, the reality is far from ideal: • Women are now more likely to have a tertiary qualification than men, but women graduates will earn $2,000 less than male graduates and $7,400 less by the fifth year after graduation. • Less than 2 per cent of ASX200 companies have a female CEO; only one in 12 board directors are women. • Women retire with less than half the amount of savings in their superannuation accounts compared with men. • The gap between women’s and men’s earnings has been predicted to widen over coming years.

Pay inequity makes it harder for us to achieve our full potential regardless of our age, marital status or career choice. Lower wages result in fewer lifetime earnings, fewer savings and less superannuation. This means as we grow older and retire, we will probably be poorer with fewer choices. September 1st is Equal Pay Day. On average, it takes women 14 months to earn the same amount that men earn in 12 months. With the new financial year starting on 1st July, Equal Pay Day commemorates the day when women’s earnings ‘catch up’ with men’s. WIRE believes this inequity is not acceptable in modern Australia and has joined the Equal Pay Alliance to end this inequity and promote genuinely equal employment opportunities for all Australians. We will campaign for: • flexible work arrangements for women and men with caring responsibilities • improved quality, accessible and affordable childcare including after school hours care • improved equal employment opportunity practices • meaningful reporting by employers of equal pay and employment opportunities • government agencies to actively audit, promote and implement equal pay and employment opportunity programs in workplaces • proper valuation and funding of wages and conditions for work traditionally carried out by women We look forward to the support of the Rudd government, employers and the community to achieve these reforms so our daughters will no longer need to work an extra two months to earn as much as their brothers and peers.

Gender Pay Equity = Equal Pay Day = Equal Pay In August 2009, WIRE joined other 135 prominent community, union and business organisations to form the Equal Pay Alliance to promote equal pay and employment opportunity for all Australians. The alliance encourages

government to take a more proactive stance in getting rid of unequal pay and employment in Australia. For more information, check out the Australian Services Union website at

“Making It Fair” report (November 2009) In our last issue of HotWIRE (June 2009, issue 15), we reported on WIRE CEO Samiro Douglas and Communication Coordinator Jo Argent’s presentation to a public hearing of the “Inquiry into pay inequity and associated issues related to increasing female participation in the workforce”. Samiro and Jo shared stories heard firsthand from women who called WIRE or visited WIC. In November 2009, the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia published the “Making It Fair” report. Researched and written by the House Employment and Workplace Relations Committee, the “Making It Fair” report recognises gender pay gap in Australia as worsening with lifelong impacts and makes several recommendations. Research reveals most Australians do not know what pay equity means and are unaware of the widening pay gap between men and women. Another finding reveals that occupational and industry characteristics and wage setting mechanisms may be responsible for up to 89 per cent of the gender pay difference. Here is an excerpt from chairperson Sharryn Jackson’s foreword: “Women are more likely to be employed as casuals and part time workers [with] interrupted work patterns and breaks in their paid employment... [and] have little bargaining power... [Gender pay inequity] was evident in all industries and it was experienced by working women at all skill levels...”

Proposed Pay Equity Unit The report proposes to set up a Pay Equity Unit with a broad mandate within Fair Work Australia. This Federal Parliamentary committee will gather data, monitor and enforce equity in pay, conditions and benefits by overseeing biennial pay equity audits of large companies. Business, unions and industry representatives will advise this unit and make research-based recommendations. For more information, look at the website for ‘Parliament of Australia House of Representatives’ at http://www.aph.

Some Recommendations And Proposals: • Amend Fair Work Act 2009 to give Sex Discrimination Commissioner greater power to act on wage discrimination • Consider gender and equal remuneration principles when industrial awards are upgraded by Fair Work Australia including the federal minimum wage case • Define ‘work value’ consistently and take into account historically undervalued women’s occupations when setting minimum wages and awards • Organisations to respect and implement a woman’s right to equal remuneration, and to report regularly and transparently on the gender pay gap • Employers pay 9 per cent superannuation charge to employees who earn less than $450 per month • Implement comprehensive portability of employment entitlements legislation • The Australian Government lead by example to act on pay inequity within the Australian Public Service, and apply pay equity principles in all its administrative approaches • Provide more affordable, accessible and quality childcare, including afterschool and holiday programs and robust rights to request flexible working hours to suit caring responsibilities. • Make quality part-time work available to help familes balance between work and caring responsibilities • Employers who repeatedly discriminate on the basis of pregnancy or carer’s responsibility must attend a counselling or an approved training course (Sex Discrimination Act 1984)

wire women’s information

Updates and notices... Fair Work Act 2009

Volunteer Training Course

While we’re still on work-related issues, here are some changes you need to be aware of. For the second time in fewer than four years, employees and employers now have a new national industrial relations system. Fair Work Australia (FWA) and the Fair Work Ombudsman is now a ‘one-stop-shop’ for information, advice and assistance for workplace issues and replaces the tribunals, agencies and courts under Workplace Relations (WR), including:

A reminder that successful completion of our volunteer training course will earn you six units of competency from the Community Services Training Package:

• Australian Fair Pay Commission


Provide counselling in crisis situations

• Australian Fair Pay Secretariat


Undertake telephone counselling

• Australian Industrial Relations Commission

CHCCS405A Work effectively with culturally diverse clients and co-workers

• Australian Industrial Registry • Workplace Authority (after 31 January 2010) Since 1 January 2010, FWA’s National Employment Standards (NES) and new ‘modern awards’ now regulate and enforce minimum employment terms and conditions. The NES sets out ten minimum workplace entitlements. This new ‘safety net’ replaces Australian Fair Pay and Conditions Standard (Standard) and awards under the previous WR Act. Here are some key changes: • Working parents of a child under school age can now ask for changes in the working arrangements to help with child-caring.


Deliver a service consistent with WIRE’s mission and values

CHCCOM3C Utilise specialist communications skills to build strong relationships


Recognise and respond to family violence

Once again WIRE is running three training courses for our helpline volunteers this year. Each course involves eight one-day training sessions. Our next course starts on 10 February 2010. If you are above 21 years and can commit to one four-hour shift during business hours in the WIRE phone room for at least one year after training, we’d love you to join us. Visit for more details. To register for a training program orientation on 27 or 28 January 2010, please call 1300 134 130.

Indigenous Scholarship & Professional Placement

• One parent’s right to request an additional 12 months of unpaid leave.

We also offer an Indigenous training scholarship (one free place) in each course. You can also complete the course in a professional capacity without committing to volunteer work at WIRE (full course fee: $450).

• Unpaid leave for jury service or voluntary emergency activity.

Business as usual at WIC

• Redundancy payments for retrenched workers in businesses with 15 or more employees. • Workplace rights for employees, including the right to request flexible working arrangements and make complaints about workplace bullying. For more information, please check out Fair Work Australia Online at

HotWIRE is electronic! To lighten our footprint on the environment while keeping our dear members informed, HotWIRE is now electronic! If you would prefer to continue to receive HotWIRE and other appeals in the post, please call (03) 9921 0870 or email to let us know your preference and your postal address.

WIRE’s Women’s Information Centre is open and back in business for 2010. Thanks to funding once again from the Public Internet Access Program (PIAP) in 2009. Our Women’s Information Centre now has four new computers which are a fantastic resource and very popular with women. Our Job Club partnership with WISE Employment is going well, and has resumed on Mondays from 11am to 1pm at WIC.

A big thank you... We thank Sally Nicholes from Nicholes Family Lawyers for the generous donation of a computer and their muchwelcomed sponsorship of WIRE’s 2010 information seminar programs. And to all our other supporters and donors, a huge thank you and wishes for a very happy and safe new year!

wire women’s information

Hotwire Issue 16 (January 2010)  

Biannual newsletter from WIRE Women's Information community service organisation in Melbourne, Victoria

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