Australia COVID19 RGA April 1 2020

Publication Date: 02/04/2020

The COVID-19 pandemic is not just a healthcare crisis but is having far-reaching impacts on the economy and the social fabric of countries. Australia is no different. While the proportion of COVID-19 cases in males and females is roughly equal, various groups are impacted differently. Women and people with disabilities and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who have poorer health outcomes are at a higher risk of infection. Barriers in accessing information and medical and other health services exacerbate this higher risk. Women make up almost 80 per cent of the health and social assistance industry, and this means more women than men will be on the frontline of the response to COVID-19, putting them at higher risk of exposure.
The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the Australian economy, with the Australian Government estimating one million people could be made unemployed. The impact on the economy is compounded by the destruction of local businesses and homes during the recent bushfire season. Four-fifths of employed Australians (80 per cent) work in industries providing services, such as health care, education, and retail. These sectors are the hardest hit by the economic impacts of COVID-19. Many part-time and casual workers, of which women comprise the majority, are most likely to be laid off or given shorter hours during the crisis and post-crisis. Unpaid caring labour falls more heavily on women because of the existing structure of the workforce and gendered social norms. Women are paid less and perceived to have more flexibility from doing casual or part-time jobs. As a result, women will be expected to undertake unpaid care work.

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