Men and women kill their children in roughly equal numbers, and we need to understand why


On average, one child is killed by a parent almost every fortnight in Australia.

Last week, three children — Claire, 7, Anna, 5, and Matthew, 3 — were included in this terrible number. Homicide investigators have formed the “preliminary view” that their mother, Katie Perinovic, was responsible for their deaths before killing herself.

Their grieving father, Tomislav Perinovic, and Katie Perinovic’s parents have reportedly accepted the police’s version of events.

It was less than a year ago that Hannah Clarke and her children Aaliyah, Laianah and Trey were killed by their father, Rowan Baxter, who doused their car in petrol and set it alight.

In 2019, Anthony Harvey was sentenced to life in prison in Perth for killing his small children Charlotte, Alice and Beatrix, his wife Mara and her mother Beverley.

Also that year, Charmaine McLeod is suspected to have deliberately caused the head-on collision in Queensland that killed her and her four young children, Aaleyn, Matilda, Wyatt and Zaidok.

How do we make sense of such unfathomable crimes, and what do we know about why they happen?

Hannah Clarke and her children Trey, Aaliyah, and Laianah were killed by their father last year.(Facebook)

How many children are killed by parents in Australia?

Filicide is the murder of a child by a parent. Despite making up about 18 per cent of all domestic homicides each year, precise data on the characteristics of filicide are difficult to establish due to the smaller numbers and varied cases.

However, one of the most recent comprehensive national filicide studies in Australia documented 238 cases between 2000 and 2012. This study mirrored trends elsewhere, with male and female perpetrators represented in roughly equal numbers.

Common precursors to filicide included a history of domestic and family violence, parental separation and mental illness.

How the media and public view filicide

On social media, some commentators on this latest case involving Katie Perinovic have been quick to criticise what is perceived as more sympathetic media coverage of women who kill their children. And for some, the fact women and men commit filicide in roughly equal numbers suggests that family violence has no gender.

But filicide is a relative outlier as a form of violence committed by women in relatively equal numbers to men.

Men commit almost all forms of violence at higher rates. And the most common form of domestic homicide — intimate partner homicide — is committed far more by men against women in the context of domestic violence.

Flowers near a hand-drawn note from a child addressed to Claire, Anna, Matt and Katie.
Tributes left for Katie, Claire, Anna and Matthew Perinovic after they were found dead in their Tullamarine home.(ABC News: Beth Gibson)

Women who kill their children

Research indicates that gender does, in fact, play a role in the type of crime committed and the motivations behind it.

Accidental killings of children, for instance, are more likely to be the result of neglect among mothers and abuse among fathers and stepfathers. This reflects what we know about gender patterns in childcare responsibility and domestic and family violence.

In cases where children are killed intentionally, women are more likely to kill babies and newborns, particularly in circumstances of unwanted pregnancies. Such offenders are more likely to be young and have low levels of social support, although it is increasingly reported among older women.

Mothers are also more likely to kill their children during a psychotic episode.

For example, in 2017, a court found Raina Thaiday of Queensland, who killed her seven children and niece, had been experiencing a severe psychotic episode linked to schizophrenia triggered by long-term cannabis use. The court ruled she could not be found criminally responsible for her actions.

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Women are also more likely to kill children out of a warped belief they are sparing them pain — for instance, of losing a parent to suicide.

Why men commit filicide

Fathers who kill their children, meanwhile, are more likely to have a history of domestic and family violence. They are more likely to kill out of revenge towards a partner or former partner in the context of family separation.

When John Edwards shot his teenage children, Jennifer and Jack, in Sydney in 2018, his actions followed a history of domestic abuse and separation, and ended in his ex-partner Olga’s death by suicide five months later. A senior police source called her death a “slow murder“.

And familicide, in which both a partner and children are killed, is committed almost exclusively by men. Researchers suggest this indicates that men are more likely to have proprietary attitudes to both women and children, and women primarily towards children.

While gender patterns around filicide are important to research in order to understand why these crimes happen, not all cases fit neatly into these boxes. Mental illness is often a common interacting factor in both maternal and paternal filicide, and the causes are often complex and multiple.

Remembering the children

When a parent kills, the focus is often on the mindset of the perpetrator rather than the children.

In my ongoing research into media coverage of family murder-suicide cases, I have observed a notable silence around the lives of children and how they experienced violence. It is an uncomfortable topic, but we need to keep children at the centre of these discussions.

While some parents who kill may indeed have been loving parents, the act of filicide should never be framed as an act of love. It is never excusable. As such, many researchers are uncomfortable with the term “altruistic” filicide, which places the emphasis on the parent’s experiences, rather than the child’s.

We also need to address the cultural beliefs that children belong to their parents. This attitude that children are “property” contributes to filicide.

What can be done?

More comprehensive research and consistent data are key starting points. The Monash Deakin Filicide Research Hub is an excellent example of collaboration towards this goal. The Australian Domestic Violence Death Review Network is also working to produce a dataset on filicide in the context of domestic and family violence.

Greater collaboration between support service providers is also important. We need to recognise how issues affecting parents, such as mental illness or domestic violence, can have important consequences for children.

We also need to keep the best interests of children front and centre, rather than viewing them as mere witnesses to family conflict.

Denise Buiten is a senior lecturer in social justice and sociology at the University of Notre Dame Australia. This article originally appeared on The Conversation.



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Lesbian couple demand equal fertility treatment from NHS – Channel 4 News


They just want to become mothers, but say they’re being discriminated against because of their sexuality.

YouTube stars Megan and Whitney have launched a campaign demanding equal fertility treatment – after they were told they’d have to pay up to £30,000 to a private clinic before they could get any help from the NHS.

Minnie Stephenson has been talking to lesbian couples about the growing demands to end what they see as a “gay tax”.



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Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights commissioner to investigate Ambulance Victoria harassment allegations


The Victorian equal opportunity and human rights (VEOHR) commissioner will conduct an independent investigation into allegations of discrimination and sexual harassment within Ambulance Victoria.

The Victorian Ambulance Union said it was “absolutely bombarded” with examples of discriminatory behaviour in a recent call-out to members.

Danny Hill, the general secretary of the union, said he had seen a lot of examples of “harmful” treatment that left some members “traumatised”.

He cited the example of a woman who had to get a medical certificate to justify breastfeeding because she needed a flexible work arrangement.

“For a health service, that’s a disgrace,” he said.

The VEOHR commissioner Kristen Hilton has agreed to the request from Ambulance Victoria board chair Ken Lay and chief executive officer Tony Walker to conduct an investigation.

“I want to be very clear that these behaviours and actions have no place in the Ambulance Victoria I lead,” Mr Walker said.

Ms Hilton said she expected the review to examine sex discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation in the workplace.

“Independent reviews are a valuable tool … they can help an organisation embed a workplace culture that values diversity and inclusion and that respects women and people of all genders,” the commissioner said.

Mr Hill said there was a view in some levels of the service that having children was an impediment to career progression.

“There seems to be an attitude … that you can either be a parent or you can be a paramedic but you can’t do both,” he said.

Gendered harassment ‘woven’ into Ambulance Victoria

Paramedic Rasa Piggott wrote to Mr Lay calling for an inquiry, saying there was a culture of “widespread bullying” and gendered discrimination.

“Our workplace is unsafe and it is breaking paramedics,” she said.

“Sexual and gendered harassment is woven into the fabric of Ambulance Victoria.”

She said when she was a graduate her breasts were “ogled” and she was warned she could not progress her career and have children at the same time.

“When I embarked on a recent attempt to further my career, I was counselled about the inconvenience of maternity leave for team settings and careers,” she said.

Ms Piggott said she had been trying to gain traction on issues such as bullying and harassment for three years and had been “punished by middle management for doing so”.

“My colleagues are exhausted. Through tears, they have shared their stories — some have experienced abuse beyond the imaginable,” she said.

Complaints Ambulance Victoria workers don’t feel ‘safe or respected’

Mr Hill said some women had been subjected to demeaning and insulting behaviour when they tried to advance their careers to become a MICA paramedic or team manager.

“They’re literally sniggered at and humiliated and embarrassed for not being devoted to their own children.”

Danny Hill says workers are now having conversations about the problem, which is a good sign.(ABC News: Bridget Rollason)

Mr Walker thanked those who came forward to speak out about the behaviour.

“In recent years, we have worked hard with various external organisations to address some deep cultural challenges,” he said.

“It is distressing to hear that despite all this work, there are still colleagues who don’t feel safe or respected.”

Mr Hill said it was a systemic problem and change was needed across the ambulance service.

“We need to have systems in place to allow people to negotiate rosters for the purposes of looking after their family,” he said.

“We also need a real cultural shift in attitude.”

He said since they had surveyed the workers, there had been a lot of discussions happening in ambulance stations and branches.

“It’s important that people are turning to one another and asking, ‘Has this ever happened to you?’

“That way we understand that, yes, this is a really big problem.”

Last year, the Human Rights Commission finished a five-year review of sex discrimination in Victoria Police.

“We have seen the transformative change that is possible within even one of the state’s largest and most complex public institutions,” Ms Hilton said.



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Jones set to equal McCaw’s world record


Alun Wyn Jones has been hailed for “a fabulous achievement” after earning another selection for Wales which will see him equal the world Test match appearance record when he captains his country against France in Paris on Saturday.

The 35-year-old second-rower plays his 148th game for both Wales and the British and Irish Lions, matching the mark set by New Zealand’s double World Cup-winning skipper Richie McCaw.

Paying tribute to Jones, head coach Wayne Pivac said: “It is a fabulous achievement. He epitomises what a great rugby player is all about.

“He is a true professional on and off the field, and a gentleman of the game. On the field, he leads by example and you can’t ask more of your captain. We are very privileged here in Wales to have him.”

Wales’ first match for seven months sees a return for centre Jonathan Davies, who has not played Test rugby since suffering a knee injury during the World Cup last year, while Pivac has also named uncapped Gloucester wing Louis Rees-Zammit and Ospreys hooker Sam Parry among the replacements.

Wales play their delayed Guinness Six Nations game against Scotland next week, and Pivac will use the match at Stade de France as full-blown preparation for that encounter.

The side is packed with experience, including a 96th cap for wing George North, while scrum-half Rhys Webb edges out Gareth Davies to make a first Wales start in almost three years, and Dan Biggar wears the number 10 shirt.

In the pack, hooker Ryan Elias takes over from shoulder injury victim Ken Owens, with Cory Hill partnering Jones in the second row and Aaron Wainwright starting at blindside flanker in tandem with back-row colleagues Justin Tipuric and Taulupe Faletau.

Pivac said: “The players are excited. It has been a long time and we can’t wait for Saturday.

“We have six matches this autumn, and the game against France helps us get back into our stride, international rugby-wise.”





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Rafa Nadal stuns Noval Djokovic to equal Roger Federer’s grand slam record


Paris: Rafael Nadal put in an astonishing performance at Roland Garros on Sunday to devastate Novak Djokovic and draw even with Roger Federer’s record 20 grand slam titles.

The Spaniard was in an uncompromising mood, taking his 13th French Open title in straight sets 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 against the world No.1.

Rafael Nadal en route to victory in the French Open final on Sunday.Credit:AP

Nadal was the early aggressor as he choked Djokovic to win the opening set in brutal fashion having made only two unforced errors. He then kept a firm grip on a subdued Djokovic in the second set under the roof of court Philippe Chatrier.

Djokovic, who was looking to win his 18th grand slam title, rebelled in the third set, breaking back for 3-3, only to drop serve on a double fault in the 11th game before Nadal went on to bag his 100th victory at Roland Garros with an ace.

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Southern Stars equal Ricky Ponting’s world record-breaking ODI team


The Australian women’s cricket team has matched the world record-breaking winning streak of the men’s side, destroying New Zealand by 232 runs and breaking a slew of records on its way to a 21st consecutive ODI victory.

No Meg Lanning, no Ellyse Perry, no worries for the Aussies, who set the Kiwis a target of 325 – the biggest total at Allan Border Field – and registered their biggest win against New Zealand, who buckled in the face of a world-record run chase.

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With captain Lanning sidelined by hamstring soreness, the Kiwis may have fancied their chances but met the same fate as every opponent Australia has faced since 2018.

After being sent in to bat by Kiwi captain Sophie Devine, the Aussies gave a glimpse to the future – and how difficult any opponent will find it to break their winning run – when they elevated 18-year-old Annabel Sutherland to become the country’s youngest ever No.3.

The victory handed Australia a clean sweep of the Rose Bowl series and a 5-1 start to the COVID-19 impacted summer after their single T20 loss to the Kiwis in the final match of the series.

With the international schedule under a COVID cloud, the next ODI fixture is not set in concrete but a tour of New Zealand is likely early next year, when they will be out to claim the record outright after Wednesday’s ninth consecutive win against the Kiwis.

A GLIMPSE OF THE FUTURE

Sutherland made a stylish 35 from 56 balls before taking a key wicket opening the bowling with Megan Schutt to join an impressive list of players Perry, Karen Rolton and Jess Jonassen to have batted at three and opened the bowling.

“It’s obviously nice to get that opportunity, not in great circumstances with Meg being out but I feel pretty honoured to get that opportunity at No.3 do I just wanted to go out and make the most of it,” Sutherland told Channel 7.

“It’s quite a tricky wicket to get in on but once you’re in you can cash in.”

And she is not the only young gun in the record-breaking line-up, with Ashleigh Gardner, 23, Sophie Molineux, 22 and Georgia Wareham, 21, also playing on Wednesday.

HEALY BACK IN THE GROOVE

After making 47 runs in her two trips to the crease in the opening matches of the Rose Bowl series, Alyssa Healy played with great intent in game three, setting the foundation for the Aussies’ big score in a 144-run opening stand with stand-in captain Rachael Haynes.

While Haynes finished with 96 to pick up the player of the series, Healy’s 87 at a stroke rate of 100 set the tone for the attacking Aussie innings and rewarded a power of hard work in the pre-season.

“But my job’s to go out there and take the bowling on and (I did that with) probably just one too many in the end but at least we got off to a really good start,” said Healy, who also finished with a skilful stumping.



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Sam Kerr on equal footing with Cristiano Ronaldo in new FIFA game


“She’s been unbelievable – she’s been our best player for both and country – her rise over the past 12 to 18 months has been incredible,” she said.

“Her move to Chelsea vindicates that and proves how good she’s been. She’s broken records, she’s made history, and she was at one point the most expensive player to move to England in the women’s game.”

On top: USA star Megan Rapinoe.Credit:AP

She also questioned Rapinoe’s prolonged reign at the top, and perhaps with good reason. The American hasn’t played a club game since last October, her only action being three games for the USA national team in March.

“She had a great World Cup – but she hasn’t played club football for a really long time, so it’s a little bizarre why she’s still number one,” Lewis said.

“Club football is the new frontier of the women’s game – so you need to be prioritising that when you think about these sorts of things”.

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This marks the fifth year of women being playable in the FIFA series, first debuting in FIFA 16 with Matildas defender Steph Catley alongside Tim Cahill and Lionel Messi on the cover.

In this year’s game, Messi remains the top men’s player with a 93 rating, followed by Cristiano Ronaldo on 92, and the quartet of Neymar, Robert Lewandowski, Kevin de Bruyne and Jan Oblak on 91.

The full list of ratings for players will be available shortly, ahead of the game’s October release date. But which of Kerr’s teammates is the second-highest Australia remains to be seen.

“Ellie Carpenter absolutely should be higher, and Steph Catley has been underrated by both club and for the Matildas for a really long time,” Lewis said.

“I think Caitlin Foord will have a really good time with Arsenal as well.”

FIFA 21 is out on October 9th.

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Henry Kissinger evokes respect and vitriol in equal measure



Entire libraries have been written about Henry Kissinger, and even now, decades after he left government, vitriolic disagreements rage about his legacy. Vanderbilt University history professor Thomas A. Schwartz concedes at the outset of his new book, “Henry Kissinger and American Power: A Political Biography,” that he’s taken on an impossible task: writing an objective biography of the country’s 56th secretary of state. 

Kissinger’s defenders cite his steady-handed policy with the Soviet Union, his pragmatic dealmaking everywhere from Israel to Vietnam, his efforts to establish a working relationship between the U.S. and China. His detractors recall his suport for an anti-democratic military coup in Chile, his tacit support for genocide during the Bangladesh War, and his accommodation of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974. One side says he richly deserved his Nobel Peace Prize. The other side says he should stand trial at the Hague for war crimes.

Schwartz is well aware of the strong opinions his subject evokes, and he claims he seeks for a more balanced view. “Most treatments of Henry Kissinger have highlighted his role as a foreign policy intellectual who advocated a policy of realpolitik for the United States, a foreign policy that eschewed moral considerations or democratic ideology and was geared to a ‘cold-blooded’ promotion and protection of America’s security and interests,” he writes. “This is not incorrect, but it is incomplete.”

Drawing on a vast amount of primary sources (including interviews with the man himself), Schwartz carefully charts Kissinger’s evolution as one of the 20th century’s most controversial statesmen, briefly sketching his subject’s earlier stint as an intelligence officer in the U.S. Army and as an academic before concentrating on his years as secretary of state and national security adviser for Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. It was during this period that Kissinger conducted his famous “shuttle diplomacy” and developed his particular brand of diplomatic dealmaking.

Kissinger called this realpolitik, and he practiced it by sketching out détente with the Soviet Union, opening relations with China, and extricating America from a shooting war in Vietnam, among other things. “This marriage between geopolitical realism and American domestic politics, engineered by Nixon and Kissinger, was always a tenuous one,” Schwartz writes, “but it served the electoral purposes of Nixon and even won Kissinger a Nobel Peace Prize.”

Throughout all this, Schwartz always remembers to add darkly fascinating personal elements. When writing about the tense negotiations about Vietnam, for instance, readers get a typical exchange that inadvertently underscores Nixon’s plentiful belligerent qualities. “We’re going to bomb those [expletives] all over the place,” Nixon growls at one point. “The only point I disagree is we can do all of this without killing too many civilians,” Kissinger responds. “You’re so [expletive] concerned about the civilians,” Nixon accuses, to which Kissinger answers, “I’m concerned about the civilians because I don’t want the world to be mobilized against you as a butcher.”

The obvious problem here is one intrinsic to any attempt at writing a biography of Henry Kissinger. It’s difficult to avoid pointing out that the secretary, who was the willing, eager servant of a president who wanted to “bomb the [expletive]” out of civilians, also shares that president’s guilt.

Schwartz steps very carefully around that guilt. To take one example: the White House’s 1970 decision to invade and bomb Cambodia, which was heavily criticized by the American public, especially college students, is characterized as something that Nixon mostly decided while Kissinger was out of the room. Likewise, in summarizing the condemnation Kissinger encountered in 1974 when he suborned a dictatorial coup in Cyprus, Schwartz writes, “Kissinger now found himself increasingly challenged by those who sought greater morality and respect for human rights in U.S. foreign policy” – an utterly damning bit of phrasing, but Schwartz clearly isn’t intending it as a damnation.

Kissinger has been out of power for over 40 years, but he has raked in millions giving speeches and doing consulting work through his firm, Kissinger Associates. Presidents and presidential candidates make a point of being seen conferring with Kissinger, making a pilgrimage to his Park Avenue offices as a gesture of how serious they are about their international policy. The period when, as Schwartz puts it, he was “able to conduct a pragmatic and flexible foreign policy” on Nixon’s behalf was in many ways a turning point, and readers who watched that history as it was unfolding will almost certainly find “Henry Kissinger and American Power” disconcertingly even-handed in assessing how Kissinger acquired the reputation upon which so much political clout rests. 

“I am convinced that it is not necessary to render a moral judgment on Henry Kissinger in order to learn from his career,” Schwartz writes, and this is true: it isn’t necessary. But even so, it might still be the right thing to do.



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SA Equal Opportunity Commissioner quits for “history-making” Victorian job


SA’s Equal Opportunity Commissioner Niki Vincent will quit next month to take up a comparable role in Victoria – citing the eastern state’s “nation-leading” new laws as the reason for her move – but insists an already-overdue inquiry into workplace harassment in SA Parliament will not be further delayed by her departure.

Vincent announced yesterday afternoon that she would stand down as commissioner in October – seven months before her five-year contract was scheduled to end – to pursue a new role as Victoria’s inaugural Public Sector Gender Equality Commissioner.

She described her new job, which was legislated by the Victorian Government in February and focusses on ensuring the eastern state’s 300 public service employers comply with gender targets, as a “fantastic opportunity” that would “catalyse change throughout Australia”.

“It’s an inaugural role, so it’s kind of history-making and when I saw what Victoria was doing with its Gender Equality Act I just thought that is just such an opportunity for really pushing gender equality along,” she told InDaily this morning.

“This is nation-leading legislation and it’s really designed to give it a big push, I think, in public sector workplaces.

“It’s going to be like a giant sort-of social experiment to see what a legislation like this will have throughout Australia and particularly in Victoria.”

Vincent said her departure would not impact equal opportunity projects currently in train, including an inquiry into workplace harassment in state parliament, which was originally scheduled to end last month but is yet to begin as the commission is still waiting for permission from both houses of parliament.

“Those projects are not about me, they’re about the commission doing that work, so whoever the Attorney and the Governor appoints to the role will be able to actually move those projects along just as I have,” she said.

“I have every confidence that they’ll be successful.”

I’m so very excited to announce my new appointment.

Posted by Dr Niki Vincent, Commissioner for Equal Opportunity – South Australia on Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Throughout her four-year career, Vincent has spearheaded inquiries into workplace discrimination and harassment at SA Police, the Metropolitan Fire Service and various other government agencies.

She has also reduced the time her office spends assessing complaints of workplace discrimination, harassment and victimisation to just over one month.

“I think the work that we’ve done has made discrimination more visible,” she said.

“We’ve seen a lot more complaints of workplace sexual harassment in the last 12 months – more than we’ve had ever.

“Compared to average over the last four years, our (sexual harassment) complaints last year were up 46 per cent.

“I don’t know if that’s because sexual harassment is happening more, but I do think people now understand what sexual harassment is and they feel more willing to speak about it and more supported to speak out about it, and they know where to come to speak out about it now.”

But Vincent’s tenure has also been impacted by an openly sour relationship with Chapman over budget and performance disagreements.

In July last year, Chapman branded Vincent’s decision to spend $50,000 on a public relations firm as an “absurdity” that was “not justified or sustainable” – a spend that Vincent rebuked was necessary after she tried but failed to publicise issues using departmental media advisors.

Four-months later, Vincent described Chapman as “vindictive” after the Attorney-General said she was “concerned” that “insufficient” resources had been spent by Vincent to tackle discrimination against people with disability.

Vincent has also criticised the Government for funding her office to “run on the smell of an oily rag” at $958,000 each year.

“I’m independent and I’m not a public servant, so it is my job to push boundaries and so that means that ministers and I won’t necessarily always agree on things,” she said today.

“Putting that aside and me being a minor issue, the most important impacts that we’ve had have been what we’ve been able to do shining a light on equal opportunity.”

Vincent said she handed her resignation to Chapman on Wednesday but was yet to receive a reply.

A State Government spokesperson said Chapman wished Vincent well in her new position, with a replacement commissioner to be recruited “in due course”.

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Coronavirus pandemic could put gender equal pay battle on hold for a decade, agency warns


Women could be set back by a decade in their battle to reduce the gender pay gap because of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on global economies, the agency charged with overseeing the problem has warned.

The Federal Government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) recently reported the nation’s gender pay gap currently stands at 14 per cent, fractionally higher than 13.9 per cent in 2019.

That reflects a pay gap of $250 per week, and $13,000 per year.

As the country marks Equal Pay Day, the agency is warning that the struggle to make gains could be delayed because of the impact of COVID-19.

The national gender pay gap has hovered between 13.9 and 19 per cent for the last two decades.

While this year’s pay gap sits well within that range, WGEA director, Libby Lyons, is concerned that the full impact will be felt in the next few years.

Ms Lyons said that during the Global Financial Crisis the gender pay gap increased by two per cent, to 17.6 per cent, which took a decade to lower.

“It took us 10 years to bring that pay gap back down to where it is today,” she said.

“We cannot afford to see a repeat of this as we face our first economic recession in almost 30 years.

More women than men out of work

Ms Lyons said more Australian women than men had lost their jobs during the pandemic because “female-dominated industries have suffered the worst of the job losses”.

These industries include tourism, hospitality, retail, the arts, aged care and disability sectors.

The Federal Government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency director, Libby Lyons.(Supplied)

The pandemic has also had a greater impact on part-time and casual workers — the majority of whom are women.

Adelaide-based musician Helen Ayres hasn’t performed since March and, like many artists, isn’t eligible for any government support payments.

Ms Ayres is providing private violin lessons through the pandemic but, without her usual work, the family is getting by on one income.

“I’m really aware that I’m relying on my husband more and more … and more than makes me feel comfortable.”

Meanwhile, Sydney-based executive assistant, Jessica Ofori, is trying to re-enter the workforce after 12 months’ maternity leave.

A woman sits on a cement wall, holding a baby on her lap
Sydney-based executive assistant Jessica Ofori is trying to re-enter the workforce after maternity leave.(Supplied: Jessica Ofori)

“One job I applied for had more than 200 applicants,” Ms Ofori said.

Another role had a series of unusual requests.

“Within 24 hours of applying I received an email from the company, which said ‘would I accept a salary of $70,000?’ — $10,000 less than what was advertised,” she said.

“The other question was ‘would I still be interested in the job if one day per week was unpaid?’

“I’ve also noticed there’s a lot of contract and part-time work, and not as many full-time roles.”

Financial adviser Tania Tonkin from DMCA Advisory acknowledged many women are now finding themselves in similar positions — and warned there were long-term implications.

“There’s much less opportunity to build that balance at retirement.”

‘Unconscious bias’ in pandemic response

South Australia’s Commissioner for Equal Opportunity, Dr Niki Vincent, pointed to an “unconscious bias” in state and federal government responses to the pandemic.

Dr Niki Vincent is South Australia's Equal Opportunity Commissioner.
Dr Niki Vincent is South Australia’s Equal Opportunity Commissioner.(Twitter)

“We need a much greater government effort in generating employment in female-dominated industries hit hardest by the pandemic, like retail, tourism, events, fitness, beauty and hospitality,” she said.

SA Chiefs for Gender Equity chair Matthew Salisbury said most economic responses have focused on male-dominated industries.

“A lot of the government support has targeted much needed infrastructure projects, and it’s true to say those are still largely male-dominated industries,” Mr Salisbury said.

Dr Vincent also pointed to the need to make JobKeeper fairer for women, who “are less likely to meet the eligibility criteria due to casual work”.

She called for wide-scale reform across the public and private sectors.

“We need access to free and high quality childcare, to increase women’s availability to work. We need better and fairer paid parental leave.

“Things like carers leave, giving casual workers part time work for job security, and addressing workplace sexual harassment are all things that would make a massive difference.”

Ms Tonkin advised women not to underestimate their skills and abilities when applying for work, and implored employers to consider the importance of gender-balanced workplaces.

“It means looking at what someone offers in terms of skills and ability, and then the pay aligns accordingly.”



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