Report Highlights Unpaid Care Work of Indigenous Women

Report Highlights Unpaid Care Work of Indigenous Women

A newly released report, commissioned for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, sheds light on the significant unpaid care work undertaken by Indigenous women and calls for a new approach to supporting them. New report highlights Indigenous women do larger amounts of unpaid care than any other group

Prepared by the Australian National University (ANU) to support Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women’s Voices) from the Commissioner, the report delves into how Indigenous women perceive, value, and experience care work.

Drawing on ABS data and discussions with over 100 Indigenous women, the report reveals that Indigenous women shoulder a heavier burden of unpaid work compared to both non-Indigenous women and Indigenous men. This is especially true in childcare and caring for people with disabilities, reflecting the demographic structure and health disparities within Indigenous communities.

The report estimates the economic value of this unpaid work to range between $223.01 and $457.39 per day, highlighting its significant contribution to the economy. However, it also emphasizes that mainstream definitions of care often fail to recognize the diverse ways in which Indigenous women provide care, viewing it through a lens informed by western colonial logics.

Many Indigenous women interviewed saw unpaid care work as integral to their commitment to family, community, culture, and Country, challenging the notion that care is peripheral to the economy. The report underscores the need for policy and practice to center Indigenous women’s voices and celebrate their care as an essential expression of culture.

In light of its findings, the report makes seven recommendations, including the establishment of a task force led by Indigenous women to design a national action plan to support care, ensuring public policy is anti-racist and decolonial, and acknowledging the intricate links between paid and unpaid care roles undertaken by Indigenous women.

By elevating Indigenous women’s voices and recognizing the value of their care, the report argues that Australia can fulfill its obligations under various human rights instruments and work towards a more just and equitable society.

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