Comparing Australian garment and childcare homeworkers’ experience of regulation and representation

Annie Delaney, Yee Fui Ng, Vidhula Venugopal

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Labour markets in Australia have long been segmented by gender and race. This study compares two highly gendered and racially segmented labour markets, home-based family day care workers and garment homeworkers. The comparative cases examine the broader trends of migration, production and consumption that reinforce gender and racial stereotypes, and discourses that underpin representations that women workers are ideally suited to such work. We theorise the gender and racialised inequalities of homework based on the literature on invisibilisation and social reproduction to explore the vulnerable position of migrant women and the consequences of having limited options, such as legal and social protections and any capacity to collectively organise. Our analysis examines the roles and responses of institutions and conceptualises the socio-political factors that affect the characterisation of homework as non-work or as self-employed entrepreneurial activities. By mapping the differing regulatory trajectories of these two groups of homeworkers in terms of regulation and representation, we find both similarities and differences. While garment homeworkers have achieved recognition through legislation and social mobilisation, their circumstances leave them less likely to access such rights. By contrast, the failure to recognise family day care homeworkers, has left them to market forces. JEL code: J01

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)346-364
Number of pages19
JournalThe Economic and Labour Relations Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2018


  • family day care workers
  • garment homework
  • gender
  • Homework
  • migration

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