Frustrations are building as years of campaigning for female jockeys to be included in the paid parental leave scheme have amounted to nothing.
The Australian Jockeys Association began lobbying the government in 2013 to change the anomaly that makes female jockeys ineligible for the scheme, but three social services ministers later, the association says it has failed to get any concrete movements on the issue, despite the government agreeing it needs to be fixed.
“The frustration is that we’re up to our third minister and we’ve written to him as we have to the previous two ministers and unfortunately we’re not getting too far,” AJA chief executive Paul Innes told AAP.
“I would have thought it was a case of just ticking a box and getting it done.”
Racing safety regulations prohibit female jockeys from riding after their first trimester, making them ineligible for the scheme, as it requires women to have worked 10 of the preceding 13 months before having a baby.
Around a quarter of all jockeys in Australia are female, with the number rising to around half for the apprentice ranks.
The longer the issue remains unresolved, the more jockeys it will affect, Innes says.
“It’s not fair,” he said.
“There have been a number of riders that have had children now and they have been denied paid parental leave.”
A spokesperson for Social Services Minister Christian Porter said the government was currently in “good faith negotiations” with crossbenchers to work through changes to include women in dangerous occupations in the legislation.
In December last year, Porter said the current guidelines restricting workers in dangerous jobs “failed the common sense test”.
“We should not maintain the system we inherited where women in certain professions miss out on paid parental leave because they do a dangerous job,” he said.
With an election soon and the possibility of having another social services minister in the job, Innes is worried the issue will take the back seat.
“Now’s the time to really strike,” he said.
The AJA is working on new initiatives, including harnessing more high profile female jockeys to push the process along.
Nurses that work in radiology, female miners and jockeys are some of the female workers being denied access to paid parental leave.