Friday, March 09, 2007

Women, men, work and family

The issue of work/life balance has been around for a while. Lately, the media have been banging on about it quite a bit and even our Prime Minister has called it a "BBQ stopper". A lot of the work I do in my job is related to this. Last Wednesday, I attended the launch of the Human Rights & Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) report It's About Time: Women, men, work and family. The report is the result of about 2 years of research and community consultation conducted by HREOC, and amongst the other recommendations, includes a recommendation for the government to make legislation which entitles people (women and men) to ask for flexible work to assist them to manage their work and family (eg caring for children or parents etc). The proposal only obliges employers to reasonably consider such requests (they are not obliged to provide flexible work if it is not possible). It's a new "social vision" for Australia.
So a report which took about 2 years to put together was rejected in one day by the current federal government. I think that is particularly sad (well, I'm sure they probably had an advance copy, but nevertheless).
But the real point of this post is to raise awareness. At the launch, one person asked the question "How we can get the government to accept these recommendations?" (or something along those lines). It isn't easy, as this is a topic that's been around for a while, along with things like a government funded paid maternity leave scheme (Australia and the US are the only first-world/developed nations without such a scheme). It was suggested that something that we can all do is to talk about it, and keep talking about it. Get our husbands, fathers, brothers, sons, partners and others to talk about it. The issue is not about women and women having to make a choice between work and family. The issue affects all of us, men as well as women - it's about time, and having enough time to work and to care for others (children, parents, spouse, partner, extended family etc), participate in the community, in our society. I was talking to a friend today and she mentioned her husband has only seen their young children for about 15 minutes this week, because he's been working very long hours. It's not good enough. So, without wanting to sound completely preachy, get talking about it! Whatever your politics, talk about it.
Oh, and (belated) Happy International Women's Day everyone!

*ribbons to decorate this overwise fairly serious post from LFN textiles - bought thanks to a lovely post from Yarnstorm - the reversible ones I especially like - I can't decide which side I like the best!!


Queen Frogger said...

What a thought provoking post. I was lucky enough to live in the UK when we had our child and we benefitted enormously from maternity rights, return to work flexibility and time off for Dad. And the ribbons are great!

Anonymous said...

I know, it disgusts me that my country still doesn't have it right where women & children are concerned. Health care, too, as far as that goes. *sigh*

LFN Textiles said...

Hi there -- I am the ribbon lady and I am so flattered that you have shon my ribbon! I am now venturing into blogland myself and would love it if you would visit me there: