Job security, health and education are the top federal election issues for women voters, according to a national survey of more than 1100 women released by the ACTU today.

The Checklist for Women Voters asked women to nominate the top three priorities that a government could act upon to make it easier to balance paid work and family life. Women were most concerned about job security (45% of respondents), the provision of health, aged care and community services (39%) and quality education (38%). Equal pay for women (32%), family-friendly work policies (28%) and affordable child care (26%) were the next most important election issues.

When asked to nominate any other issues of concern, 24% of women nominated workplace and job security issues including lack of promotion, the need for flexible hours, job sharing, sub-standard casual and part-time employment conditions and inadequate redundancy and superannuation entitlements.

Releasing the survey results in Perth, ACTU President Sharan Burrow said women would judge the major political parties on whether their policies helped balance work and family.

“Women have been telling us for some time that they are angry at the impact of the Government’s policies on themselves and their families. Full-time jobs are being replaced by part-time and casual work, and women are the great losers. The statistics tell the story for women – 150,000 full-time jobs disappeared in four months recently, and two-thirds of those were women’s jobs.

“Australia has the highest proportion of women – 72 per cent – employed in part-time work of any Western nation except the Netherlands. This not good enough. Women are saying they expect governments to play a role in job creation and job retention. Politicians who do not act on jobs deserve to lose their own jobs.

“Life is hard for working women and it doesn’t have to be. Most women don’t have access to paid maternity leave, a woman’s average weekly wage is $166 lower than a man’s, women work high rates of unpaid overtime, and cuts to child care funding have made work and family a real juggling act.”

Ms Burrow said she was overwhelmed by the response to the survey, which is the first conducted by the ACTU using a combination of email, fax and website technologies.

“We had 400 email responses in one day. These women didn’t just answer a telephone call from a paid survey worker, they filled in a form and faxed, posted or emailed it to us. They are concerned enough to take action.”


Sample: Email, fax and mail responses from 1186 women between March and September 2001.

Question: Later this year Australians will vote for the political party that will govern us for the next three years. Unions want to hear from women about their top priorities for the federal election. The results of this survey will be used to highlight the needs of working women in an election year. The ACTU Women’s Committee has developed a checklist for women voters which was launched on International Women’s Day. We want women to identify the most important issues a government could act upon to make it easier to balance paid work and family life. To nominate your three priorities please choose from the list of 10 below that you consider the most important for the next federal election:

Issue Responses

Job security 537
High quality health, housing, aged care and other community services 460
Equal access to quality, fully funded education and training opportunities 446
Equal pay 375
Family friendly workplaces 331
Affordable and accessible child care 306
Fair workplace laws 303
More control over working hours 299
Pay increases for low-paid workers 247
Family leave/paid maternity leave 200