Release type: Media Release

Date:

$1.69 million to help small business become more family friendly

Ministers:

The Hon Julia Gillard MP
Minister for Education. Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations
Minister for Social Inclusion
Deputy Prime Minister

The Minister for Employment & Workplace Relations, Julia Gillard, today announced that 258 Australian small businesses will share in $1.69 million worth of grants to help them become more family friendly.

The Minister has also announced that Senator Jacinta Collins has been appointed special adviser to the Minister on work and family balance and pay equity. Senator Collins will assist the Government in further promoting family friendly work arrangements.

Research shows that family-friendly workplaces are more productive, harmonious, have less staff turnover and attract the most talented staff.

However, a survey published recently by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) found that in 80 per cent of Australian working families, at least one parent said they struggled to achieve a work-life balance.

The Rudd Government understands that despite the best of intentions, often small businesses do not have the time or resources to implement family friendly workplace practices.

The Government’s $12 millionFresh Ideas for Work and Familyprogram is an election commitment and was designed to encourage and support small businesses in developing innovative solutions to the work and family challenge.

The first round ofFresh Ideas for Work and Familywill help support small businesses with grants of up to $15 000 to set up family friendly arrangements in their workplaces.

The response from small business around the country was outstanding. The 258 successful small businesses were selected from over 1 200 applications received in the first round of the program.

  • 49 small businesses in Queensland will share in more than $302 000 in grants
  • 82 small businesses in New South Wales will share in more than $588 000 in grants
  • 72 small businesses in Victoria will share in just over $423 000 in grants
  • 16 small businesses in Western Australia will share in just over $106 000 in grants
  • 19 small businesses in South Australia will share in more than $152 000 in grants
  • 7 small businesses in the Australian Capital Territory will share in more than $34 000
  • 2 small businesses in the Northern Territory will receive a grant worth more than $17 000
  • 11 small businesses in Tasmania will share in just over $67 000 in grants

Following the first funding round, the program will also develop industry specific information supporting work-based family friendly practices that will be widely distributed and available online. Details of the 2010 funding round will be available in the coming months.

Together with theFresh Ideas for Work and Familyprogram, the Rudd Government has delivered a new fair and balanced workplace relations system that will help employees to better balance their work and family responsibilities.

From January 2010, all State and Territory offices of the Fair Work Ombudsman will employ dedicated staff with expertise in family friendly arrangements.

The new Fair Work system entitles employees to 12 months unpaid parental leave associated with the birth or adoption of a child.

Under the new National Employment Standards which commence on 1 January 2010, parents will also have the right to request a further 12 months unpaid parental leave.

The new right to request flexible work will help employers and employees to make arrangements that help the employee meet their family commitments while also meeting the needs of the business.

Fair Work also allows employees and their employers to make Individual Flexibility Arrangements at any time to help balance work and family responsibilities.

Of course the Rudd Government has also committed to introducing, for the first time in this nation’s history, a national paid parental scheme.

To find out more about the Fresh Ideas for Work and Family program visit: www.deewr.gov.au/freshideas

A full list of successful projects is available from:

www.deewr.gov.au/freshideasgrants