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Founder's Weekly 29th Apr 2022: Let’s talk about the “women problem” + is Instagram safe + smart money tips

Your vote is key to important issues like better pay + are you safe on Instagram and dealing with a rise in your home loan repayments 

Fellow remarkable women,

With only four weeks to go until you cast your vote, do you feel that you are being heard?

This last year has really brought up some big issues of concern to women, such as lack of affordable housing, pay inequality and sexual abuse even in our house of Parliament.

The good news is that commentators are tipping the female vote as the deciding factor in this election.

The bad news is that we are still waiting for our leaders to speak out, loud and clear, about what they plan to do about the issues that matter most to women.

Of course, there’s still time, and we’re listening.

Why women’s vote matters so much this election 

As we get closer to the Federal election, it looks likely that it is the female vote that will determine who holds power after May 21. 

What the government refers to as “women’s issues” is set to play an important part in the campaign.

Let’s number a few – the mishandling of the Brittany Higgins case, the treatment of former Australian Post CEO Christine Holgate, the women in retail, health, education and aged care who have been underpaid and under-appreciated on the pandemic frontline and allegations of bullying against the Prime Minister from women in his own party.

2022 survey by the Women’s Electoral Lobby also found that most women want action on:

  • - Ending violence against women. One in three women has experienced physical violence since the age of 15. 

  • - Job security and fairer welfare payments. According to the Grattan Institute, the COVID recession hit women much harder than men and will compound women’s lifetime economic disadvantage. They were also less  likely to get government support – JobKeeper excluded short-term casuals, who in the hardest-hit industries are mostly women.

  • - Housing security and homelessness. Data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) reveals that women comprised more than two-thirds of all people seeking homelessness supportand were not able to be helped last year.

  • - Women’s underrepresentation in Parliament. Women comprise only 31.1% cent of members of the lower house. However, they are now 51.3 per cent of Australian senators.

We are yet to hear a truly rousing speech to the women of Australia by politicians from any of the major parties, one that tells us they acknowledge the #metoo movement and the continued fight for respect and social and financial equality for women. 

So what are they offering so far? 

You can check out this ABC guide to find out where the major parties stand on issues such as housing, aged care and climate change (and don’t forget to check out other political candidates, such as independents, many of them female and running in safe Liberal seats).

But, here are some key points for women. 

Labour is ahead of the Coalition on childcare, aiming to provide a universal, 90 per cent subsidy to all families. The family income threshold would be lifted from $354,305 to $530,000 and there would also be no annual cap. 

However, the Greens want to make childcare essentially free, by ditching the income and activity tests needed to get the subsidy and giving families access to 100 hours a fortnight of fully subsidised care, up to the existing hourly fee cap. 

On the housing front, Labor has also promised to create a $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund, with the returns on investment being used to build 30,000 new social and affordable houses, some of which will be allocated to frontline workers and women fleeing domestic violence. 

The Greens want to build one million affordable public and community houses over the next 20 years and give $7 billion in capital grants to improve existing public housing over the next decade. It'll fund the new houses through taxes on billionaires and large corporations, with the money going into a Federal Housing Trust. 

Regarding gender abuse, the Morrison Government says that it continues to provide significant funding support to keep women and children safe – at home, at work, in the community and online.

Its total investment for the first five years of the next National Plan to End Violence against Women and their Children is more than $2.5 billion. 

Labor’s plans include establishing a new Family, Domestic and Sexual Violence Commissioner to act as a strong voice for victim-survivors, investing $77 million for student education programs around respectful relationships, $1.6 billion to build 4000 new social housing properties specifically allocated for women and children fleeing domestic and family violence and $100 million for crisis and transitional housing options for women and children fleeing domestic and family violence, and older women on low incomes who are at risk of homelessness. 

The Greens have promised to close the gender pay gap and make workplaces safer.

You may like to listen to  this video about women and the key issues that may decide the 2022 election.

Smart money: Dealing with an interest rate rise

If you are a homeowner (or planning to be) all the talk around a rate rise will probably have you wondering how much extra money you are going to have to find.

Financial commentators are predicting the Reserve Bank will raise interest rates as soon as next Tuesday, with some predictions being 0.40% and 1.5% over the next 12 months. This will make the average home loan interest rate 4% adding extra pressure on household budgets, especially those where women are the sole earners.

We spoke to our friends at Accura Lending who shared their insights into how we all can practically manage the rise in interest rates and give our households a headstart for a better financial future over the next 12 months.

Here are five things you can do to reduce financial pressure right now.

    1. Do your homework. Research how much your extra repayments might be and plan accordingly. For our Signature Members, our exclusive Home Loan Savings Calculator allows you to calculate how much it will be and identify how much you will need to save.
    2. Review your loan. Ask your bank for a rate review because you are considering switching. Get their “best and final offer”.
    3. Get a better deal. If you are not happy with your existing lenders offer, consider refinancing to a better rate. Some banks will offer you $4,000 cashback to switch. You should speak with a mortgage broker to ensure you can secure the best loan for your circumstances.
    4. Restructure. Consider fixing your loan, changing the interest type or reducing the principal via an additional repayment. The goal is to have as much cost certainty as possible in these changing times. Your lender or mortgage broker can guide you through your options.
    5. Tighten your belt. Look for ways to reduce your spending in other areas of your budget, for example by reviewing your insurances, your streaming services, or your power supplier.

If you need support in reviewing your home loan or finding a better rate, you can connect with our partner Accura Lending here

Is Instagram safe for women?

If you use Instagram, the platform may not protect you from abuse and harassment.

That’s the takeout from a recent report by the U.S.-based non-profit Centre for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) that concluded that Instagram "systematically fails" to protect women.

The Hidden Hate report found the Meta-owned platform did not act on 90% of complaints made about gender-based abuse and harassment received via direct messages, despite them being reported via its tools.

These complaints included receipt of unsolicited nude photos and videos, violent messages and death threats.

Meta’s head of women’s safety, Cindy Southworth, has defended Instagram saying gender-based hate or any threat of sexual violence is not allowed and that the platform had announced stronger protections for female public figures.

While we must have stronger media policies in place, there is also a desperate need for social and cultural shifts in the way women are perceived.

The fight for equality is inherently psychological as well.   

Starting conversations about equality

A leading British university is using deep-dive research to shift the perception of women’s roles in society and question social inequality.

Exeter University hopes to create a platform for debate and shine the spotlight on toxic relationships and issues.

“We need to spark the conversations that make it impossible not to pay attention,” it says.

Current research projects include the role of women in the workforce, the impact of domestic violence, and the inequality in female electoral representation.

The university is also examining societal expectations that exert pressure on teenage girls to achieve high grades, become popular and to conform to a definition of what it is to be beautiful.

An incredibly valuable platform that I look forward to following along. 

Until next week,
Shivani

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