Creating a better future for Victorian women
Six months ago, Cube brought together more than 100 of the best and brightest minds in policy design and service delivery to discuss how women are disproportionately impacted by the “missing middle”. We also heard from two inspiring and engaging speakers: Professor Bernadette McSherry and Associate Professor Becky Batagol. Bernadette shared insights with us on the missing middle for women in our mental health system. Becky also touched on mental health and worked through examples of the missing middle for women in our justice and financial systems.
That discussion could not have been more prescient. In the months since, the world has been enveloped in one of the most devastating pandemics in living history; an event already proving to have devasting new impacts on women.
The pandemic’s effects are far reaching, impacting our physical and mental health, the economy, education systems, travel, workplaces and even our rule of law. But perhaps nowhere have the consequences been more keenly observed than across social issues that disproportionally effect women: insecure and casual work, family violence, homelessness and financial inequality.
In fact, women’s financial inequality has increased so rapidly that recent research for the Financy Women’s Index has shown that for every month affected by the pandemic, Australian women have been losing one year in progress towards economic equality. Our recognition and action about the missing middle and its gendered nature, has never been more important.
We thought it timely to share with you insights from our research and your table discussions during the event, especially as many of you are beginning to turn your mind to recovery and focusing on how we can help those that have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, further entrenching inequality and disadvantage.
Discussions on the tables focused on how policies and services affected those who are most vulnerable, as well as those in other social groups who may rapidly find themselves in vulnerable situations, and to consider not only who accesses support services, but who is missing out. Interesting ideas were raised and stories shared across a range of sectors including family violence, homelessness, mental health, disaster relief and recovery, climate change, safe and accessible places, incarceration and legal representation, and creative industry participation and recognition. Two key themes emerged from the discussions: the need to design and deliver integrated services with a holistic approach to addressing the needs of women and the importance of genuinely incorporating the lived experience of women in all aspects of policy design, implementation and review.
There is no need for women to be at such great risk or to be so vulnerable. But until we face up to it and understand our role in creating the problem, every woman that slips through the net and is placed in a dangerous or extremely vulnerable position is our collective responsibility.
As leaders in your sectors, we hope that this report can support you in navigating this new normal and to ensure that we can bring into view and elevate the voices of those who might otherwise miss out. We will be continuing the conversation across many sectors over the coming months, so please reach out if you would like to be involved via [email protected]