Commit to social policy reform to address gender inequity, says Senior Vice President Amber Flohm 

Federation Senior Vice President Amber Flohm called on delegates to commit to social policy reform that addresses gender inequality and inequity facing educators in public education settings, during the “Gender equity and equality in the public education workforce” debate at Annual Conference. 

She said addressing the structural and systemic barriers facing women teachers in public education was critical to gender equality for the profession. These barriers, which affect all teachers include, but are not limited to: a lack of secure, quality and flexible work, exacerbated by caring responsibilities; expensive childcare; inflexible parental leave; unequal parenting responsibilities and limited rights to access family friendly or other flexible work arrangements.  

“Promoting gender equality is not just about dealing with ‘women’s issues’ but rather with engaging the membership in ways that appeal to groups of members in recognising their needs, and the variety of them,” Ms Flohm said. 

“It’s everyone’s business, not just women’s business, but those most affected by gender inequality must be at the forefront of developing strategies to address it,” she also said. 

For the benefit of all 

“Gender equality and gender equity in Australia, and indeed around the world, has and is going backwards,” Ms Flohm said. “It’s time for us to take our place and enact our campaign to contribute to this social policy reform for the benefit of all. When women are healthy, respected and economically empowered, it’s good for our teachers, our students, our system, our families, their communities and our nation.” 

Right to gender equality, equity and respect 

Ms Flohm said all women have the right to equality, equity and respect at work, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, women of colour, gender-diverse people, women with disabilities, younger women, older women and low paid and insecurely employed people.  

She said Australia’s labour market was not gender equal, and unpaid domestic care and work was predominantly performed by women. “Women spend 64.4 per cent of their average weekly working time on unpaid care compared to 36.1 per cent of men.” 

Almost three quarters of Federation members are women and women hold 70 per cent of Federation Representative positions, yet significantly more women hold insecure positions compared with men. 

Annual Conference decision 

The Annual Conference decision acknowledges each group of women members requires different and varying solutions to address the complexity of their working lives and often caring and other responsibilities.  

Annual conference endorsed (among other actions): 

  • exploring all avenues, including taking action under state or federal anti-discrimination legislation or other relevant legal action, to bring forward actions to address and redress part time unfilled teacher vacancies as systemic structural discrimination in schools 
  • ensuring permanent part-time employment is enhanced as a secure category of employment for TAFE members  
  • asserting guarantees and enforceable access to secure flexible working arrangements in schools and TAFE, including permanent part-time positions   
  • pursuing “right to disconnect” options in future industrial agreements to seek to embed systemic balance between work and care responsibilities 
  • developing a new Federation Affirmative Action Policy to reflect the changed contexts of our school and TAFE teachers including Federation as an employer 
  • an initial review, led by the women senior officers, of all Federation rules, policies, practices and officers working conditions to ensure that they are consistent with recommendations pertaining to gender equity and equality.