Family-friendly policies

Here we have collated some examples of “best practice” in family friendly policies within various science institutes within Australia. You might like to take some of these ideas to your own institutes for implementation!

  • Walter & Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research gender equity program
    “At the institute nearly 60% of our undergraduate and PhD students are women and about 50% of our post-doctoral scientists are women. At the laboratory head and division head level, the situation is much more sobering: 27% of our lab heads are women, but none of our 10 division heads and only 6% of our professors are women.”
    Some programs include:

    • Cory Fellowship: $1.25 million, 5 year fellowship for new women laboratory heads
    • Childcare support: $15,000 per annum for childcare costs
    • Meeting and travel support: available for postdocs and female laboratory heads
    • Technical support while on maternity leave
    • Additional time for contract renewal: additional 12 months (per child)
  • Monash University “Advancing Women’s Research Success” Grants
    Monash University has a long-standing commitment to gender equity and diversity and to increasing the representation of women in senior academic roles. The Advancing Women’s Research Success Grant supports the career progression of early to mid-career high potential female academic staff with significant carer responsibilities and assists the university in fostering talent to progress women to senior roles within the academy. 

    By providing funding at a critical time in the careers of high potential female academic staff, this initiative aims to reduce the impact of career breaks and/or intense caring responsibilities on research productivity. Grant awardees receive funds to support a range of research activities so that they can maintain or enhance the momentum of their research productivity and strengthen their research profile.”

    The grant:

    • is open to women academics returning from maternity leave
    • includes a grant of up to $11,000, with some flexibility in its use, as it can be used to purchase the following:
      • research assistance;
      • travel for research purposes;
      • research collaboration;
      • teaching relief or relief from other duties,
      • professional development;
      • extraordinary carer support; or
      • other direct research costs not funded by the faculty.
  • UNSW Vice Chancellor’s Childcare Support Fund for Women Researcher
    “The Vice-Chancellor’s Childcare Support Fund is intended to enable women researchers with childcare responsibilities to enhance (attain, sustain or re-establish) their research careers on a national and/or international level.”
    The fund offers:

    • grants for women researchers (postdocs & academics) to attend scientific meetings and pay for childcare costs (e.g. employment of child carer or travel for family member)
    • up to $500 for Sydney, $1000 for Australia, and $2000 for international meetings
  • CSIRO’s Payne-Scott Award
    “The Payne-Scott Award assists researchers returning from extended leave to re-engage with their field of research and re-establish research networks. The Payne-Scott Award is available to  research staff returning to work after parenting or family duties, or for other special circumstances. There is no limit on the number of awards that will be given in any year. Subject to availability of funds, all eligible researchers who provide a completed application which meets the conditions of the award and which is endorsed by their Business can receive this award. Successful applicants can apply for up to $10,000.”
    The award is open to postdocs & permanent staff and can be used to

    • pay for teaching relief
    • hire a research assistant
    • host workshops
    • go on sabbatical
    • host visiting scientist
    • cover costs of family travel and/or a carer/nanny for their child/ren
  • AAO Return to Work Scholarship Award
    “The AAO is offering a discretionary award to assist staff return to work after extended absence as a primary carer. Although open to all staff, preference will be given to female researchers. The AAO will set aside up to $35,000 per annum as a pool of funds to support any qualifying activity.
    This award:

    • The hire of a research assistant
    • Paying for observing support relief
    • Hosting workshops
    • Going on sabbatical
    • Conference and travel support
    • Hosting visiting scientists
    • Meeting the costs of family travel to conferences and sabbatical locations
    • Child care/or nanny costs.
  • The University of Sydney’s Brown Fellowship (one of the University’s three Equity Fellowships)
    “The aim of the Brown Fellowships is to assist university researchers whose careers have been interrupted and/or disrupted by the undertaking of sustained primary caring duties. These fellowships provide academic staff with up to two semesters of relief from routine teaching and administrative responsibilities, and research only staff with funding to hire technical assistance for up to two semesters, in order to allow them to focus on their research while re-establishing or enhancing their academic research careers.”
    Some information is provided here or in the guidelines here.