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Gender Relationships and Policies in Australia Essay

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Updated: Jun 19th, 2020


The Federal budget 2014 has made life more difficult for Australian women than ever before. In fact, parents will no longer stay at home because of limits to funds they can get from the taxpayer. Feminism refers to the striving force for equality between women and men irrespective of their religious, sexual and race links. In Australia, only 29.2 % of the country’s representatives are women (SLSA 2014). 29.2 % is quite low when compared with women’s participation in other developed countries like France and Belgium, among others. For centuries, Australia has been considered a patriarchal system. In fact, Australian women have been fighting for their rights since the 1960s. Australian women are a worried lot, especially when they have to choose between job and family. This paper will explore feminism, patriarchy and their existence in Australia. The paper will also discuss policies such as sex discrimination act of 1984, university school fees as expected in 2016, and tax benefits for single mothers (AustLII 2014).


Patriarchy can be defined as a family, a social organisation, a group, or a government where men are considered the supreme authority. For centuries, Australian society has been dominated by men. Until 1960s, women’s national duty was mainly to reproduce and to control the number of children born to them. This was arguably women’s dark age in Australia. Australia was considered patriarchal during this period. It should be noted that women did not have the right to vote. Moreover, women were not allowed to access education. Women were forced to go against their natural functions. In fact, women were only allowed to vote as recently as 1902.

However, women’s right to education was still far off in the 20th century, especially tertiary education. Moreover, women in Australia are still considered a disadvantaged lot concerning their roles in the family. Moreover, women are forced to disregard their preferences in the choices they make. Women were brought I Australia to satisfy the sexual demands of men in the country’s colony. In addition, women were usually damned for their behaviours. In fact, debates in the 19th century centred on whether women should own property in Australia. Additionally, such debates were aimed at establishing whether women could get formal education or have custody of their children. Western assumptions that women were mainly emotional than rational, affected their ability to get their rightful place in society. It should be noted that women still get less pay as compared to their male counterparts. In essence, Australian women have lived in a patriarchal society for centuries (Coleman 2014).

The slow change in Patriarchy

Since 1902, Australian society has slowly moved from patriarchy to pro feminism. In the 1950s, men were considered in the workforce as wage earners, women were barred from joining some jobs. In particular, women were considered homemakers and women were paid less. In the 1970s, legislation eliminated overt discrimination against women. From 2010, women have enjoyed equal opportunities in employment policies although achieving this reality has been difficult. In fact, three waves of feminism took place to achieve the change from patriarchy. The first wave of feminism was met with hostility from unsympathetic media (DSS 2014).

In fact, women were labelled a “shrieking sisterhood”. In fact, even the male who sympathised with women fared no better. Women were considered absurd and illogical. Additionally, women were labelled poor and wretched. In fact, women’s suffrage was illegal and shameful. Moreover, men were allowed to beat their wives during this era. However, women challenged these beliefs. South Australia was the forefront in women suffrage in 1856. By 1861, the first public school for girls was opened. After a nine-year struggle, women were allowed to vote and to stand for elections in 1894. Nonetheless, women were still a long way off from achieving full participation in national duties.

The second wave of women’s suffrage was called “women’s liberation”. This wave started in 1960 where gender equality pleas entered the parliament. The second wave of feminism received numerous gains including the first woman advisor to the prime minister. The third wave of feminism was considered “the glass ceiling”. The third wave ushered in women premiers. In fact, women took active part in shaping Australia. A fifth of CEOs in Australia’s public service wee women by 1994. Currently, the Country has another woman premier although women still face challenges, especially single mothers (Hartcher 2014).

Privileges and Disadvantages that women face in workforce today

According to Booz report, Australian women are enjoying the current benefits as compared to previous ones. However, much needs to be done to achieve equality. Now, women in Australia earn approximately 17 % less than they earn their male counterparts. In essence, although women have found renewed confidence in workforce, they still face some obstacles. Obstacles come in terms of pay since more women attain HSC than men. In addition, more women graduate from Universities than men do. However, the study also shows that males who complete university take home $2000 more than their female counterparts do.

The change in gender pay has been slow in the last two decades. Women earn an average of $252 less than their male counterparts do. This reflects waste of talent since Women chief executives also face same obstacles in Australia. According to NSW, only 63 % of boys complete year 12 as compared to 72 % of girls. Moreover, girls have been doing better at both HSC and graduate levels than boys. In essence, Australian women still have some disadvantages in society.

One of the disadvantages women experience is gender inequality in terms of pay gap, among others. However, there are benefits women have enjoyed in Australian society. These include promotion of equality between women and men through the sex discrimination act (AHRC 2014). Although this has not been achieved fully since, there is a pay gap between the genders. Sex discrimination act has also enabled the government to minimise sexual harassment in workplaces and in institutions of learning, among other service programs. Additionally, women receive benefits such as paid parental leaves, which have also empowered women (Strachan 2010).

Paid Parental leave

Paid parental leave in Australia was introduced in January 2011. According to the scheme, those are compensated when they take leave to tend their young ones. The scheme is specific to newborns and newly adopted children (Bita 2014). The scheme is funded by the Australian federal government; this happens if the parent is eligible. In fact, the scheme is also available for self-employed parents. The scheme is designed to pay parents in two forms namely dad and partner pay, or parental leave pay (DHS 2014).

The latter provide mothers with pay for up to 18 weeks after birth. The rate of pay is in accordance with Australian minimum wage of about $622 every week. For this scheme, all types of workers may be eligible, including self-employed workers. Usually, long-term employees receive their leave pay through the employers. Nonetheless, self-employed workers, and other workers get their pay from Centrelink. A parent is considered eligible for parental leave pay if he/she is the primary caregiver of the adopted or newborn child. Additionally, the parent must pass the parental leave work test as well as pass the parental leave income test. Finally, the parent must not work or be on leave for the period of being the child’s primary caregiver (Feather & Boeckmann 2007).

Childcare costs and Parental paid Leave

Usually, parental paid leave is given to promote equality between men and women. In addition, leave pay is given to help parents to balance between family life and work. Parental leave pay was also introduced to promote increased participation in workforce by parents. In effect, parental leave pay helps employers to retain their valuable employees even when concerned with children (Kniest 2014). The scheme also helps to supplement the parent’s exiting entitlements during leave period. In essence, parental paid leave help to relieve financial pressure on the parent giving the high childcare costs (Chesney-Lind 2006).

Childcare costs have increased at a time when the government is cutting its budget on tax benefit. Moreover, tax benefits have been redefined such that single mothers earning more than $100000 will be barred from family tax benefits. This comes at a time when end of the year supplement has also been reduced from $354.05 to $300 per family. In addition, single parent assistance has also been reviewed to a maximum of FTB-A. Women are therefore forced to seek employment to cover for child costs once their children even before their children attain schooling age (Baird & Williamson 2011).

Australian Workforce and Patriarchy

Australian workforce has been dominated by men for centuries. Initially, only men were considered as wage earners. However, recent developments have seen female suffrage on a large scale. Based on the facts above, women are still feeling the heat despite their achievements. In fact, women in Australia face more obstacles in their lifetime than men. In fact, women over 50 are now being forced to go back into work force because of the economic difficulties they face (Massola 2014). Moreover, it is expected that retirement age will increase to 70 years by 2035, a move that will force more women in workforce despite other responsibilities that face them (Chris 1997). To some extent, Australia is still a patriarchal society given the privileges women have as compared to men (Zillman 2014). Therefore, it is clear that women are “still working for men” in Australia (Pocock 2014).

How women are retaliating

Women’s talent is wasted based on Booz figures. Australia boasts of being an egalitarian society although it faces issues of a blokey society concerning women’s place in society. It is estimated that 30 % or more females are required to achieve a long-term change in workplace. This can only be achieved when employers if employers made work flexible as well as caring for women given their child bearing responsibilities. Women have been fore front in fighting for their rights right from the beginning. This is evidenced in the three waves of feminism that begun in the 20th century. Women have continued to promote equality and performance (Dion 2010).

Moreover, women have been forefront in deciding their fate through hard work and show of ability to perform. NSW has shown that more than 9 per cent of girls attain HSC than boys. In addition, more women graduate than men from Australian universities do. It is estimated that women would better Australian economy if more of them were employed since their talents are currently wasted. Women have engaged policy makers in intriguing debates that would help empower them to realise realistic outcomes on equality issues. Australian government is expected to respond to the needs of the country by engaging and empowering women (Daly 1990).


The past few centuries has seen a move from patriarchal society to a pro feminism society in Australia. In the 1950s, women were barred from exercising basic rights. In fact, they were mainly seen as child bearers or homemakers. However, three waves of feminism saw an overhaul of sex discrimination, which enabled employment acts to be enacted. In addition, women played an important role in Australian society. Presently, results show that more young women are attaining HSC than young men. Moreover, more women are graduating from universities than men are. Furthermore, Australian policies have promoted equality between men and women (Roberts & Ayre 2002).

These policies include parental leave pay, among other benefits. Currently, women have equal employment opportunities with men. Nonetheless, it has been established that women still meet obstacles in achieving equality with men. Although the policies promote equality, this has not been achieved fully in reality. For instance, barely 30% of women are in the Australian workforce despite their tremendous performance. Additionally, women are underpaid as compared to their male counterparts. Moreover, childcare costs as well as the cost of university fees have also increased tremendously. These have affected women who spend most of their time taking care of children.

Reference List

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Hartcher, P 2014, How Joe Hockey ended the age of entitlement. Web.

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Roberts, P & Ayre, M 2002, The Careers Review of Engineering Women: an investigation of women’s retention in the Australian engineering workforce. Web.

SLSA 2014, Women’s Suffrage: Women & Politics in South Australia. Web.

Strachan, G 2010, ‘Still working for the man? Women’s employment experiences in Australia since 1950’, Australian Journal of Social Issues, vol. 45, no. 1, pp.117-130. Web.

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