ASU women making changes 

8 March 2024

Did you know that 54% of union members across Australia are women? In fact, in the ASU SA + NT Branch it is closer to 64.5% of members who identify as a woman or non-binary.

The average union member in Australia is a 45 year old nurse. In the ASU SA + NT Branch our average member is a 44 year old woman working in Disability Services.

On March 8 this year, ASU Women came together for a special International Womens’ Day symposium to discuss the issues facing working women.

Did you know that International Women’s Day has always been about women protesting oppression and inequality? IWD was first organised by women in trade labour unions in North America and Europe from the early 20th Century - with the first known event taking place in 1908 in New York, when 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter hours, better pay and voting rights.

While there have been significant wins for women over the last Century, we continue to fight for true equality.

There is good news on this front, however.
In the last year, ASU members have: 

  • Won new laws that strengthen the protections against sexual harassment.
  • Made 10 days of paid family and domestic violence leave available to all workers.
  • Campaigned successfully for a Royal Commission into family, domestic and sexual violence in South Australia.
  • Made requests for flexible work easier, with more power for workers to negotiate for flexible working arrangements.
  • Expanded paid parental leave to 6 months, increasing by 2 weeks from July 2024, and each year until it reaches 26 weeks in 2026.
  • Ensured super is paid on government parental leave.
  • Successfully lobbied government to pass new laws around wage theft, job security, and labour hire.
  • Campaigned and won the right to disconnect from work.
  • Ensured gender equity is now an object of the Fair Work Act, and new gender equity experts are installed at the Fair Work Commission.

We know there is much more to do to make change for working women including:   

Addressing the gender pay gap - The recent WGEA employer pay gap figures were alarming, especially in female dominated sectors like clerical, admin, banking and airlines. But, transparency is our starting point for change. We're not standing by. Expect to see us challenging employers with the biggest gaps for real action. Stay tuned.

Championing the Right to Disconnect - ASU members winning the Right to Disconnect is a game-changer, especially for women. With many women shouldering the bulk of domestic and care work, it’s a step towards ending the after-hours work expectation, opening doors for career advancement without the overtime pressure. Now we need to work on ensuring this right applies to all workers by pursuing a change in the state system. 

Let’s remember that our collective voice is powerful and we are seeing significant change already under the Albanese and Malinauskas Governments. ASU members can celebrate a great deal this IWD, while recognising that there is still a long way to go before have achieved true gender equality. 

Special thanks to all our guest speakers on the day, including Senator Barbra Pocock and Federal Member for Boothby Louise Miller-Frost.