Essential Part of Life or Essentially Ignored? Combining Care Labour with Parliamentary Duties

Pia Rowe

Research output: Contribution to journalSpecial issuepeer-review


Despite significant efforts to increase women’s participation in the paid workforce, Australian politics remains resistant to calls for greater workplace flexibility, including family-friendly measures. One of the issues contributing to this problem is women’s disproportionate share of care labour, and the persistence of cultural norms that reinforce a gender binary in the division of public and private duties. A significant oversight to date is the common conceptualisation of care duties solely in relation to children, and more specifically, babies and young children. While some structural support is already in place for childcare, the diversity of caring roles has received very little attention. In this paper, I examine Parliament as a family-friendly workplace, with an emphasis on the multi-faceted nature of caring. In doing so, I argue that while ‘babies are ok’, there is a need to shift the discourse to one more inclusive of care labour—in all its manifestations—if workplace practices are to be changed to accept diversity as the standard.
Original languageEnglish
Article number6
Pages (from-to)91-109
Number of pages19
JournalAustralasian Parliamentary Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


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