Women Encouraged to Apply for Return to Work Grants

Women looking for work will be able to apply for grants of up to $5,000 to fund technology, training and work essentials to help them return to the workforce, thanks to a $32 million investment in the recent NSW Budget.

Member for Cootamundra, Steph Cooke has encouraged eligible women to apply for the Return to Work Program and tailored support from a Return to Work Coordinator.

“This is an opportunity for women to build the confidence and financial independence they need to return to the workforce,” Ms Cooke said.

“Women who are experiencing barriers re-entering the workforce can apply for grants of up to $5,000 to help cover the cost of common financial obstacles such as work clothes or an internet connection.”

Minister for Women Bronnie Taylor said the positive results of the program demonstrated the value of this investment.

“The feedback from more than 1,500 women who have completed the program was that it works because of its flexibility and tailored approach. 65 per cent of women secured employment, 73 per cent applied for or started education and training while an incredible 98.5 per cent found the program helpful,” Mrs Taylor said.

“I am proud to be part of a Government that looks at unique solutions for the big issues affecting women’s workforce participation through the Women’s Economic Opportunities Review.”

The Return to Work Program will continue next financial year. Consideration will be provided to priority groups.

For more information, head to: www.service.nsw.gov.au/services/business-industries-and-employment/get-notified-about-return-work-phase-3/return-work-rtw

NSW Sets a New Standard on Parental Leave

Teachers, nurses, firefighters and other public sector workers across the State will be encouraged to share childcaring responsibilities between partners under an overhaul of the NSW Government’s paid parental leave scheme.

From October, there will no longer be a distinction between a ‘primary’ or ‘secondary’ carer, meaning every mother and father in the public sector will be entitled to at least 14 weeks’ paid parental leave.

The NSW Government will also offer parents an additional 2 weeks’ ‘bonus leave’ if paid parental leave entitlements are more equally shared between partners.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke welcomed the announcement which is part of the 2022-23 NSW Budget.

“This initiative is about supporting families by allowing them to share child care responsibilities”, Ms Cooke said.

“It is part of recognising that both parents deserve the ability to choose a career, have a family or have both.”

The NSW Government will also expand the window in which public servants can take paid parental leave from one year to two years after birth, and extend paid parental leave to long-term or permanent foster carers.

The ‘bonus leave’ scheme is one of the first of its kind in Australia and will apply where each parent (including parents employed outside the public sector) takes at least 12 weeks’ parental leave and exhausts any paid parental leave offered by their employers. Single parents will be entitled to the full 16 weeks of paid parental leave.

The paid parental leave reform is part of the NSW Government’s ongoing commitment to supporting women in the workforce, policy reform and investment into women’s economic participation.