National Women’s Soccer Team

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (14:58:38): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing questions to the Minister for the Status of Women about the Football Federation of Australia’s rejection of paid maternity leave for the Matildas.

Leave granted.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: This month it was reported that our national women’s soccer team players will have their contracts annulled and will be required to pay for their travel and accommodation costs to have their babies by their side during national team camps, after the Football Federation of Australia rejected a proposal for paid maternity leave. Of course, these developments follow an ongoing pay dispute which has seen the Matildas go on strike over the enormous pay disparity between them and their male Socceroos colleagues.

The base salary for the Matilda players is a paltry $21,000 per annum, and they receive $500 per international game. By contrast, the Socceroos receive $6,500 per standard international game. The Matildas also receive $500 per group stage tournament game while, by contrast, the Socceroos receive $7,500 per group stage tournament game. My questions to the Minister for Women are:

1.Is the minister aware of this significant gender gap in the sports and recreation sector of teams representing our nation?

2.What steps has the minister undertaken to ensure that the gender pay gap in this sector is both challenged and addressed?

3.Will the minister write to the Football Federation of Australia, if she has not already done so, to request that they consider policy measures to support our female athletes across the board at the national level, including paid maternity leave?

4.What course of action will the minister now take to ensure that female players who work in exactly the same conditions as their male counterparts are supported and valued in their workplaces?

5.How will she work with other members of this council and the other place to effect this change?

The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for Employment, Higher Education and Skills, Minister for Science and Information Economy, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for Business Services and Consumers) ( 15:00 :28 ): I thank the honourable member for her most important question and her ongoing interest and advocacy in this area. Advocacy is probably not the right word, but she certainly is a champion of women’s rights, including issues around pay equity. I thank the Hon. Tammy Franks for raising this particular issue in this place. I was actually not aware of that decision and, unfortunately, you are probably not surprised that I am not surprised to hear such a report. It is consistent with other pay inequities that occur for women right throughout society, including our sport. I certainly will be happy to respond to that report.

In terms of women in sport generally, the Office for Women has developed a strong relationship with the Office for Recreation and Sport (ORS), and continues to work with it on increasing recognition of women in sport and their participation in sports leadership. ORS has set diversity and inclusion as one of their key areas, and continues to include the increased participation and recognition of women in sport as a priority.

In May this year ORS released Words into Sporting Action, a practical guide to achieve gender equity in sport and recreation organisations and improve performance, as a guide for organisations to help achieve particularly equal representation of women and men in senior leadership roles. The South Australian government has established a women in sport task force, and that is led by parliamentary secretary to the Premier, Ms Katrine Hildyard MP, and the Office for Women is a member of that task force. I know the Hon. Tammy Franks would know Katrine Hildyard extremely well, and again she has been a strong and forceful campaigner for particularly pay equity for women and has a long track record in this space. Katrine is really working very hard in this space at the moment.

The task force also includes representatives from the Office for Recreation and Sport, as well as high profile sports women, sporting body representatives and event managers. The group aims to increase the number of spectators, both in venues and TV for women in sport. I think with the increased recognition of women we could expect that that would result in an increase in pay equity as well as prize money. We know there are significant differences in the sort of prize moneys that women can achieve in sport compared with men.

A report released by the Australian Sports Commission showed that women’s sport makes up at least 7 per cent of TV and print sports coverage, although the vast majority of stories, 85 per cent, were positive, 58 per cent of people surveyed felt that not enough coverage was dedicated to women in sport. The task force aims to close the pay gap between male and female athletes and attract more sporting events to Adelaide. A social media campaign will be launched using the hashtag ‘watch the woman’ to encourage big crowds to attend female contests in codes such as football, soccer, cricket, netball and basketball. The task force will make recommendations to the state government and sporting bodies such as the AFL, and the women’s football curtain-raiser ahead of the showdown between Port Adelaide and the Crows has been flagged as a type of event that could instigate significant interest.

There are also issues around women in sport governance that quite a lot of work has been done around, but I won’t go into that in detail. If the Hon. Tammy Franks wants that information, I am happy to make that available to her, and also obviously there is quite a bit of detail around Words into Sporting Action that I can also make available to those members that are interested.

In terms of general society, because sport actually reflects what is going on in general society, there are a whole raft of strategies that I know the Hon. Tammy Franks is aware of in terms of trying to encourage particularly young girls into non-traditional occupations, particularly those high-tech STEM areas. We have a program of attracting young girls into STEM. These are the higher paid jobs and we are trying to, again, shift women into non-traditional areas of occupation, because we know that the workforce is split into two areas where men tend to be highly represented and those of women. Of course, those areas where men are highly represented are more often than not paid more than that of women.

There are issues around workplace flexibility, so women having access to the workplace and being able to return after maternity leave or other caring leave and to be able to fit their work commitments with their caring obligations and also to distribute more of those caring obligations to be able to share more of that with men is another area that we have also done significant work in. There are significant programs and strategies that I could go into, but that is a thumbnail sketch for the purposes of answering the question here today.

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