What’s in the federal budget for women? 

What’s in the federal budget for women? This is what you need to know

Jim Chalmers

The Albanese government has handed down its 2024-25 budget, labelling it as one that “works for women”. 

The budget makes what we would describe as modest investments in women’s safety, women’s health and women’s economic security, and provides cost of living relief that will benefit women, including changes to the stage three tax cuts, the payment of superannuation to those on the Commonwealth paid parental leave scheme, and the inclusion of longer consultations under Medicare for women seeking complex gynaecological care for conditions like endometriosis. 

It is the first budget since the government launched its national strategy for gender equality, called Working for Women. It focuses on five priority areas: gender-based violence, unpaid and paid care, economic equality and security, health, and leadership and decision-making. 

It also comes amid a refreshed conversation in recent months on domestic and family violence in Australia, following a spate of horrific alleged murders of women by their current or former partners. 

The situation prompted national rallies against men’s violence, organised by advocacy group What Were You Wearing, and an emergency national cabinet meeting on the issue. Following this, it was announced the government would be funding a permanent $925 million program aimed at financially supporting women leaving abusive relationships. 

In a statement to the media, Minister for Women Katy Gallagher said the budget shows the government is “serious” about improving women’s lives and making progress on gender equality. 

Here’s a snapshot of the key measures that will impact women in this budget.

Domestic and family violence 

As we are already aware, the government has provided $925.2 million over five years to make permanent the Leaving Violence Program, designed to support victim-survivors to leave an abusive relationship. The program provides up to $5000 of support, including up to $1,500 in cash and up to $3,500 in vouchers for goods and services. 

The program follows the Escaping Violence Program trial, established under the Morrison government, and the Temporary Visa Holders Experiencing Violence Pilot. Both of these programs will transiton under the permanent Leaving Violence Program. It is due to commence in mid-2025, following the procurement of an appropriate service provider. 

The government has dedicated $6.5 million in 2024-25 to develop a pilot of age assurance technologies to protect children from pornography and other harmful online content. The pilot is part of the government’s plan to tackle extreme misogyny online. 

The National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS) will get $4.3 million to build more evidence on the perpetration of violence. The women’s budget statement notes that an existing commitment from 2023-24 of $1.3 million will go towards a review of prevention approaches led by an expert panel. 

When it comes to law enforcement as it relates to domestic violence, the government is providing $109.9 million over two years to the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission. The funding is to support better information sharing with state and territory law enforcement agencies, including relating to domestic violence protection orders. 

For legal assistance services that provide essential support for women experiencing domestic violence, the government has set aside $44.1 million in 2024-25 to “keep the doors open” at legal centres. 

Another $6 million over two years has been committed for the trauma-informed local outreach healthcare in crisis and temporary accommodation for women and children experiencing family violence. It will be provided through the Primary Health Network on the Central Coast. 

Sexual violence is rife at tertiary education institutions in Australia. As part of this budget, there is commitment to greater accountability, with $18.7 million over four years for a National Higher Education Code to Prevent and Respond to Gender-based violence. There is also $19.4 million in funding for the establishment of an independent National Student Ombudsman. 

For migrant and refugee women, there is more funding ($6.1 million over four years) for the continuation of the Domestic and Family Violence visa support service. For those who have experienced forced marriage, there is $2.2 million over four years for Speak Now, a national forced marriage education service. 

Women’s health

There is a focus in this budget on funding better research and data relating to women’s health. 

First, there is a $53.6 million (over four years) investment into research into issues including menopause, pregnancy loss and fertility, areas where research has been historically under-funded. There is also $8 million for the development of data sets on miscarriages, sexual and reproductive health in a bid to enhance data collection on key areas of women’s health. 

For healthcare, there is the already announced $49.1 million that will go towards providing longer consultations for complex gynaecological conditions like endometriosis and pelvic pain. Access to abemaciclib (Verzenio®), an early stage breast cancer treatment, will be expanded on the PBS. 

There is also funding to support the training of healthcare practitioners in long-acting reversible contraception insertion and removal in an effort to improve contraception options and accessibility. 

Meanwhile $12.5 million will be provided to the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation to facilitate community-led, culturally appropriate distribution of free period products in remote communities. And there is also $1.2 million for the training of healthcare professionals on menopause.

Recommendations from the MBS Review Taskforce for midwives will also be implemented, with $56.5 million over four years to improve maternity care. 

On miscarriage, there will be a new public education and awareness program, as well as a data scoping study on a national data collection on miscarriages. 

For First Nations women, there will be $5.8 million invested over two years to continue prevention work on preterm and early-term births. There is also $900,000 to go towards the National Stillbirth Action and Implementation Plan 2020–2030. Additionally, there will be $3.5 million provided to expand the Midwife Professional Indemnity Scheme to better enable Birthing on Country programs. 

There are also general announcements around mental health, including the establishment of a national digital service for people experiencing mild mental health symptoms, from January 2026, as well as an upgraded network of Medicare Mental Health Centres. 

Women’s economic security 

There are a number of measures that the government says will ease the cost of living pressures facing women in Australia, including the changes to the Stage Three tax cuts, the payment of superannuation on Commonwealth-funded paid parental leave and reforms to indexation on HECS-HELP student debts. As the government notes, nearly 60 per cent of the total student debt in Australia is held by women.

For migrant and refugee women, who often face additional barriers to economic security, $15 million (over three years) will go towards education activities on workplace safeguards and compliance measures related to migration laws. It’s designed to empower women to report exploitation at work when it happens. 

Valuing women’s care work 

The government has made a commitment in this budget to fund a wage increase for early childhood educators and aged care workers following a process that is currently underway by the Fair Work Commission. This follows the $11.3 billion already provided to the interim wage increase for aged care workers. 

There is also $1.6 billion over the next decade for the Commonwealth Prac Payment, to support nursing, midwifery, teaching and social work students as they complete unpaid placements required in their course. This will amount to $319.50 per week for students. 

Representation in the workforce 

In a bid to address Australia’s highly gender-segregated workforce, the government is launching a “Building Women’s Careers” program to support women in male-dominated and high-demand industries. 

Business 

There is no specific funding for female entrepreneurs or women-owned businesses in this budget. However the government has said it will implement a “voluntary” supplier registration process that will give women-owned businesses the option to self-nominate through AusTender, in a bid to create more transparency on the experiences of women suppliers in terms of  government contracts and procurement processes.

Cost of living measures

While the cost-of-living measures outlined in this Budget are not specifically targeted at women, and in some cases—such as the $300 energy rebate—everybody benefits regardless of income, it’s clear women will be some of the key beneficiaries of some of the measures outlined, especially young women and single mothers.

All households will receive a $300 rebate on energy bills, as part of the $7.8 billion cost-of-living relief package. One million small businesses will get a rebate of $325.

Almost one million households will be able to access a 10 per cent increase in Commonwealth rent assistance, which follows a 15 per cent increase in last year’s budget. This amounts to up to $18.80 a fortnight for singles and $25 for families.

The Treasurer has also outlined a $31.60 freezing of prescription co payments for the next two years to help keep the cost of medicines down.

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