A new report in collaboration between UNSW and the Pathways to Politics Program for Women released today addresses the fact that current parliamentary practice fails to accommodate the caring responsibilities of representatives in various ways.
Lead author and Director of the UNSW Pathways to Politics Program for Women, Professor Rosalind Dixon, launched Representing Care: Toward a More Family-Friendly Parliament in Sydney with along with 22 program alums and special guests Senator Perin Davey, Dave Sharma MP, Abigail Boyd MLP, Cate Faehrmann MLC, Courtney Houssos MLC, Jenny Leong MLC, Marjorie O’Neill MP, Peter Poulos MP, Liesl Tesch MP, Gabrielle Upton MP, Leslie Williams MP and Carol Schwartz AO.
Instituting structural reforms to allow Parliament to accommodate those with caring responsibilities is crucial to ensuring that Australia can achieve a gender equal Parliament.
The report proposes five amendments to parliamentary practices which seek to make Parliament more ‘care-friendly’ and accessible to those with significant caring responsibilities:
- Amendments to Standing Orders to remove children from the definition of ‘strangers’ not permitted in the chambers;
- Changes to the parliamentary calendar and sitting hours, so as better to align with child-care hours and school holidays;
- Parental leave for Members of Parliament;
- Increased investments in child-care facilities and options for remote learning for the school-aged children of Members of Parliament; and
- More use of ‘Zoom’ and other virtual platforms for parliamentary hearings, such as committee hearings.
About the authors:
Rosalind Dixon is a Professor of Law at UNSW Law & Justice, Director of the Gilbert +Tobin Centre of Public Law, and Pathways to Politics for Women Program NSW, at UNSW Sydney.
Kate Jackson was a Public Law Fellow with the UNSW Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law. She graduated from UNSW in 2021 with a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws (Hons I) in 2021.
Matthew McLeod was a Public Law and Public Policy Fellow with the Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law in 2021. He graduated from UNSW Sydney with a Bachelor of Laws (Hons I) and a Bachelor of Arts in 2021.