Hands up if you're already over the election.
Having already endured speculation over the date and pre-election preening, it's tempting to unplug everything and avoid the posturing politicians with their prepensive promises and pointless policies.
This election feels, however, momentous - a point in time that will define us as a nation over years and decades to come.
The government we elect on May 21 will lead us until 2025, accepting responsibility and accountability for our future direction amid global uncertainty, domestic turmoil, and social and economic challenges, with the potential to impact the wellbeing of every Australian.
What do we want 2025 to look like? There will be an estimated 27 million people living in Australia and about 8 billion people globally at that time.
About 3.24 million people in Australia (13.6 per cent of the population) live below the poverty line - that's more than one in eight adults and one in six children. Without clear policies and strategies to address income and wealth inequality, this situation will worsen. Is that what we want? On any given night, one in 200 people are homeless.
Older women are the fastest-growing group of homeless people, with research commissioned by Social Ventures Australia in 2020 finding that about 165,000 women aged 45-54 and another 240,000 women aged 55 or older are at risk of homelessness.
Factors leading to an increased risk of homelessness are reflective of an economy that does not value the paid and unpaid work of women. The gender pay gap, disproportionate burden of caring for the young and old, and impact of family breakdown undermine the capacity to create financial security that is often a foundation for housing security.
Domestic abuse is also linked to homelessness and disproportionately affects women who are often accompanied by children. The crisis is devastating in regional areas like ours that simply don't have the resources to cope.
Why doesn't she leave? Where would she go? What do we want our government to do to prevent this situation and fund front-line services?
Homelessness will be an even more pressing issue with first home buyers increasingly priced out of the market - inflated through taxation policies that benefit investors - and housing affordability falling as wages stagnate.
About 42 per cent of households with a mortgage experience financial stress despite historically low interest rates - what happens when they rise? We've seen in recent years how natural disasters such as floods and bushfires have shrunk the stock of homes for sale and rent, along with short-term accommodation and tree- and sea-change trends across the nation.
Then, of course, there is the looming threat of climate change and ecosystem destruction that is likely to see as many as 60,000 plant species lost by the 2025, and implications for food security.
How do we future proof our nation against these forces that will inevitably shake us out of our comfort zones? These are "wicked problems", with complex causes and no easy solutions. Governments must work with myriad stakeholders and balance competing needs when prioritising their plans and policies for the future.
Politicians can't be expected to have all the answers at election time, but wouldn't it be refreshing to see them acknowledge the issues that affect each of us daily and ponder our questions without dismissive and glib responses, especially regarding matters most pressing for women?
Yes, the economy is important, but is comprised of much more than construction and trades. Profit is important, but so is ensuring everyone receives a living income.
When I studied economics at university, we focused on understanding market mechanisms with no consideration for social justice and equality.
As a financial education specialist, I see women experiencing financial instability at every stage in their lives because of deeply entrenched systems, policies and processes, and the intergenerational impact.
The message to women is often that they need to fix themselves, when they are not the root cause of the inequalities and barriers they face.
My sense of urgency to address these issues rises as the years pass.
In my 20s, I was confident that the inequalities women faced were temporary and the glass ceiling and other barriers would be smashed by my generation. Into my 30s, I realised power and control is tightly held and rarely surrendered. By my 40s, I decided that change is too slow, and we must demand action.
Which brings us back to this election. Women have been at the centre of the political debate over the past two years.
Many have stepped up as candidates and more are adding their voices to the calls for action.
Our votes will be influential in deciding the outcome.
Let's use them to signal what is important to us, to shape the nation we want to live in. Vote as though our entire future depends on it, because it does.
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