On Thursday 31st January Sex Discrimination Commission Elizabeth Broderick launched a report that examines the value of unpaid care. The Investing in care: Recognising and valuing those who care report examines the impact of unpaid caring responsibilities on workforce participation and retirement incomes and savings.
A team of researchers from UNSW undertook the research. The report identifies areas for reform including:
- Strengthening legislation to recognise discrimination based on family responsibilities including caring. Introducing mechanisms like carer assessments to determine a carer’s support needs and carer cards for accessing services and entitlements which would allow unpaid carers to participate in society on a more equal footing.
- Ensuring that unpaid carers have the right to request flexible work arrangements and that employers are obligated to reasonably accommodate their requests.
- Ensuring that income support reflects the variable costs of providing care and does not penalise unpaid carers for engaging in education and training or participating in the workforce.
- Expanding and strengthening leave provisions for all unpaid carers to ensure that they can maintain their attachment to the workforce while also undertaking their care responsibilities.
- Properly resourcing and coordinating services for unpaid carers across jurisdictions and care sectors to ensure that unpaid carers and those they care for receive the benefits of these services.
- Introducing workplace initiatives and changes to workplace culture to support unpaid carers undertake their work and care responsibilities.
- Reforming the current system of retirement income and savings, including the age pension and superannuation that is tied to paid work, to account for the inequity of retirement incomes and savings that leaves many women in poverty in older age, especially women who are or have been unpaid carers.
The report, technical papers, community guide, toolkit and fact sheet are available from the Australian Human Rights Commission