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What Chalmers’ 1st budget means for lawyers’ families

Treasurer Jim Chalmers has handed down the first federal budget for the Albanese Labor government for 2022–23, announcing a range of measures to benefit families, including those of legal professionals across the country.

user iconLauren Croft 25 October 2022 Big Law
What Chalmers’ 1st budget means for lawyers’ families
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In the first budget since the Albanese government was elected in the 2022 federal election, delivered earlier tonight (25 October) to the House of Representatives, Treasurer Jim Chalmers said the 2022–23 budget would help to “build a better future” and provide cost-of-living relief.

To that end, the Treasurer announced a number of measures for families, including cheaper childcare, an expansion of paid parental leave, and a number of gender equality initiatives.

Cheaper childcare


From July next year, more than 1.2 million eligible families will be given higher childcare subsidies as the government commits to a $4.7 billion spend over four years to make early childhood education and care more affordable.

Child Care Subsidy rates will increase up to 90 per cent for eligible families earning less than $530,000. Families will continue to receive existing higher subsidy rates of up to 95 per cent for any additional children in care aged five and under.

“It will increase the paid hours worked by women with young children by up to 1.4 million hours a week in the first year alone. That’s the equivalent of 37,000 extra full-time workers,” Treasurer Chalmers declared.

“Because our early childhood educators guide our young ones and help them grow in those critical early years, for the best possible start in life — it’s more than care. It is cost-of-living relief with an economic dividend.”

Paid parental leave

In the biggest expansion to paid parental leave since its creation, the government has announced a $531.6 million spend over four years to expand upon the Paid Parental Leave Scheme.

By 2026, families will be able to access up to 26 weeks of paid parental leave. This is the biggest reform to the scheme since its introduction in 2011 — and the modernised scheme will include reserved “use it or lose it” weeks for each parent in a bid to encourage both parents to take parental leave.

Parents will be able to take leave in blocks as well as days at the time, which Treasurer Chalmers said would not only take the “pressure off household budgets” but also ensure “greater equality and greater security for Australian women”.

Gender equality

Further, Treasurer Chalmers announced a record investment in women’s safety, as well as other actions to advance gender equality.

The government will develop a National Strategy to Achieve Gender Equality, which will be guided by the new independent Women’s Economic Equality Taskforce and informed by broad consultation.

The government will also require large companies to publicly report their gender pay gap to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency to improve transparency and encourage change, with pay secrecy clauses in employment contracts slashed.

The Women’s budget papers state that “improving women’s representation in leadership positions and in our parliaments is crucial to achieving gender equality” and that the “government is committed to a society where women and men are equal”. 

Changes to the Fair Work Act will make it easier for women in low-paid sectors to make pay equity claims. The Fair Work Commission will need to consider gender equity when setting minimum wages. The budget provides $20.2 million over four years to set up two new expert panels on pay equity and the care and community sector to support the Fair Work Commission.

Family Violence

In a move to help combat family violence, the government will deliver a record investment of $1.7 billion over six years to support women’s safety. 

The Treasurer also announced $1.3 billion in funding to support the implementation of the National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children 2022–23, which will fund initiatives to support the prevention of violence, early intervention, responses, and recovery and healing.

Additionally, the government has committed to legislate 10 days of paid family and domestic violence leave, in addition to providing $65 million over four years for consent and respectful relationships education.

Treasurer Chalmers also announced that of the $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund, the returns from around $1.6 billion would be directed to delivering 4,000 social housing dwellings. These will be provided for women and children fleeing domestic violence and older women on low incomes at risk of homelessness. 

“This budget does more than end a wasted decade — a decade marked by energy chaos, a crisis in aged care, skills shortages and stagnant wages, and not enough to show for a trillion dollars in debt,” Treasurer Chalmers concluded.

“It does more than draw a line under the drift, decline and decay that defined it. It begins to put things right. It begins to build a better future that befits our people and the sacrifices they make for each other.

“A future we can all have a stake in, all sharing in its success.”