Construction Workers Standing Backs to Camera

The National Association of Women In Construction (NAWIC) has released its Federal Election priorities, calling for childcare, industry retention, cultural change and gender equality reforms.

With the Federal Government’s ambitious $120 billion spending on infrastructure and an increasing skills shortage, NAWIC is calling on the incoming government to implement policies which will make the industry more accessible to, not only women, but all construction employees.

As outlined in its newly released list of Federal Election Priorities, NAWIC states that childcare reform, cultural change, positive procurement policies and gender pay gap equity are all required to deliver the industry reforms that are so desperately required.

NAWIC Advocacy Chair, Kristine Scheul, said, “It is no surprise that in an industry that is already plagued with high rates of suicide and burn out, construction is facing significant shortages in long-term sustainability, productivity and its capacity to scale-up to meet increasing labour demands.”

Following a recent inquiry into Government procurement practices for government funded infrastructure, the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Infrastructure, Transport and Cities prepared a report into the industry.

The report recognised that, “a productive and sustainable workforce will be the key to delivering Australia’s pipeline of infrastructure projects”, however it is the culture of the industry which is “impeding the sector’s ability to attract and retain workers – especially women.”

NAWIC’s Election Priorities include:

  • Calling on the incoming government to amend legislation to allow for portability of parental and carer’s leave entitlements and in the interim, require companies who undertake government contracts, to ensure the portability of leave requirements
  • Seeking implementation of the CICT Culture Standards across all Commonwealth funded projects to create a truly inclusive industry, changing and removing existing barriers for women’s recruitment, equal participation and advancement
  • Mandating a “gender on the tender” policy for all construction projects in receipt of Commonwealth funding to ensure that more women are employed across all levels of the industry
  • Supporting the establishment of a National Gender Equality Strategy to use gender pay gap and other reporting data produced by WGEA in order to determine which organisations they contract with in the future

“Significant hours of research have gone into the question of how an industry which contributes 17.8 per cent to the GDP, the second largest industry of our country, still has the lowest productivity rate of any other industry,” Ms Scheul said.

“It may not be a coincidence that the decline in the number of women in the industry in previous years correlates with the decline in the productivity of the industry, but without the diversity of thinking and the change to workplace culture that women bring, the industry will not remain sustainable.

“This can only be achieved by ensuring that the industry has a culture of inclusivity, that women’s roles as carers is not a barrier to career advancement and that women are rewarded equally with no threat to their economic security at the end of their careers.”

NAWIC therefore, calls on the incoming government to consider NAWIC’s key priorities for this election and adopt the recommendations endorsed by NAWIC and its members.

To find out more about NAWIC’s Election Priorities, click here.

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