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Our plan for working women


HACSU has long campaigned for gender equality to improve women's working lives. As a union of workers in women-dominated industries, we are uniquely placed to lead the way in achieving progressive change. Over 65 per cent of our membership is women, and 72 per cent are under 35.

Union women have made many wins — from public healthcare and anti-discrimination laws to parental leave and family violence leave. But there is more to be done. Women still face discrimination, harassment and violence at work and elsewhere. 

Often, it feels as though women cannot win. We are either told to suck it up, harden up or toughen up — to keep quiet. When we speak up, our legal systems can work against us. Too often, we are disrespected, paid less, and denied leadership and career progression.

We've made strides in parental leave, sick leave, and carers leave, but women are frequently anxious about taking this leave. When it comes to bleeding, cramping, miscarrying, aborting, or going through menopause, our workplaces aren't ready for conversations about women's health. Too many women have taken much-needed personal leave, only to be told that her "heart isn't in her work". Additionally, women are more likely to work casual jobs without access to paid leave.

There are still workplaces that make women feel like a problem when they request flexibility for child-caring responsibilities. We are still earning and retiring with less; worryingly, the demographic that is now most likely to become homeless are women over 55.

In 2022, women are still underestimated, pigeon-holed, and dismissed.

This is not good enough.

In 2022, we are demanding more.

We have enormous potential to change the workplace, legislation, and the way people live.

We can contribute more to the workplace, lead organisations and corporations, and inspire change.

We are all entitled to respect, dignity, and bodily autonomy.

Meaningful change for working women begins in the workplace. We need courageous policymakers to enact these changes, which are more critical than ever in a world still grappling with the COVID pandemic. We are leaning on healthcare workers and the caring industries more than ever. Given that women primarily dominate these sectors, industrial change and economic equity must be encouraged, celebrated, and implemented.

Our plan for change calls for a number of industrial, social, and policy changes:

  • Industrial Reforms, including:
    • Reproductive health and wellbeing 
    • Pregnancy loss leave
    • Gender equity
    • Parental leave reform
    • Lactation and express breaks
    • Family violence leave
    • Superannuation reform
  • Funding boost to publicly funded women's health
  • Sexual harassment leave and stamping out insecure work
  • Organisational change and confidential reporting mechanisms 
  • Access to rehabilitation treatment and addiction leave 
  • Equitable housing and job retraining 
  • Implementation of recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse 
  • Free and universal childcare and early childhood learning

Read our full plan below, which is being presented to Victorian Government MPs in the coming weeks.