Financial Management Amendment (Gender Responsive Budgeting) Bill 2024

Juliana ADDISON (Wendouree) (11:46): I would like to start my contribution by recognising the member for Mildura and the work that she is doing to share her story to give voice to so many people who are voiceless. I really want to thank you for what you are doing through the press and what you are doing to empower other women to be able to talk about it and stuff like that. We are all indebted to you, so thank you very much. I really want that on the record.

I would also like to make mention of the Minister for Prevention of Family Violence, who is a fierce advocate for women in this state. Following the death – the murders – of three women in Ballarat, she came to my community and met with people, met with stakeholders. She has spoken with so many people in my community, and I want to say how important that has been for my community, for different levels of government, for her to be there and for the work that we are doing.

In saying that, I would really like to say thank you to all our organisations who are working in the family violence space. The member for Eureka, the member for Ripon and I had the opportunity to do a round table with them on Monday to really talk about how we can be supporting them. We do know – and I do believe this – that through our gender-responsive budgeting we are changing the conversation and we are changing the dial when it comes to the allocation of resources for people in Victoria. We are ensuring that women and children and girls are being looked after in every budget decision because of this important bill that we have before us.

What we are doing with the Financial Management Amendment (Gender Responsive Budgeting) Bill is seeking to embed gender equality and inclusivity considerations within the Victorian budgeting process. Addressing gender equality is a hallmark of this government. We have introduced the Gender Equality Act 2020 as well as the landmark gender equality strategy and action plan called Our Equal State. If you have not looked at this document, I encourage everybody to seek out Our Equal State, because it is our road map, it is out state’s road map for action in gender equality until 2027.

When it comes to gender equality – it has been said before, but it needs to be reinforced – Victoria proudly leads the nation. We are making great progress towards making our state fairer and more equal for all. In doing so it is essential that when we are allocating public resources – taxpayers money, public money – it is important that we examine the socio-economic impact on women and girls when we spend that money. It cannot be how we have done it before. We need a change.

We need to put a microscope over our decisions and ask who is actually benefiting, who are we actually targeting, who are we supporting and how are we addressing gender equality in this state. That is the heart of gender-responsive budgeting, and that is what we are doing.

I would like to thank the Treasurer, who has delivered his 10th budget. Over the last decade the Treasurer has been a champion of gender equality. The Treasurer has supported our $3.8 billion investment in family violence services following our landmark royal commission, once again leading the nation, because we know that when we address men’s violence against women we are addressing gender equality. I would also like to thank the ministerial office and recognise the work of the gender-responsive bargaining unit within the department.

I would also like to thank the Premier and the Minister for Women, who has already made a contribution on this bill talking about everything that we are doing. Within our government, within our cabinet and within our party room we have so many incredible women role models who are changing the way business is done in Victoria and changing the way money is spent in Victoria, because we know that when you include women around decision-making tables, you not only get better outcomes for women and girls but better outcomes for everyone.

The 2024–25 Victorian budget includes over 130 initiatives which have been assessed as positively impacting gender equality. Included in the budget are multiple initiatives that will improve the health and wellbeing of women and girls. In the area of health we are addressing the pain gap, with over $18 million for preventative care, community outreach and health and education across women’s health organisations. We are also investing in the wellbeing of new mums – I am so excited we have got so many mums-to-be in the chamber. That is why we are including funding for universal as well as enhanced and Aboriginal maternal and child health services, funding for the Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies program in rural and regional areas and funding for new facilities and services benefiting women within the Monash Medical Centre redevelopment.

We have also committed $31 million to support those living with eating disorders, which overwhelmingly impact women and girls. I would really like to recognise and honour the work of the eating disorder clinic at the Grampians Health service in Ballarat, which I am very proud got funded in last year’s budget. I would like to thank Dr Dave Tickell and the incredible team who are working with people experiencing eating disorders in regional communities. We know during COVID that our paediatric wards in Ballarat, in Geelong, in Bendigo and in regional centres were filled with young people with eating disorders. We know that this $31 million is going to go a long way to support people with eating disorders that, as we said, disproportionately affect girls and women, because eating disorders often continue through adolescence and through your whole life.

I am also proud to say that this budget includes $5.4 million for a new mental health, alcohol and other drug emergency department at the Ballarat Base Hospital, designed to incorporate the unique needs of women accessing specialist services in my community. Like so many of us, we have far too many people needing additional support for alcohol, drug and mental health issues, so I welcome this $5.4 million investment at Ballarat Base Hospital. I also thank our emergency department workers, particularly our nurses, who do such an incredible job.

On top of these investments into women’s health, we are also promoting women’s economic security. The 2024–25 budget includes investment in women’s leadership programs and mentoring programs, as well as supporting women’s representation within the startup sector. As chair of the Victorian Honour Roll of Women panel, I have the opportunity to work with incredible women to recognise and elevate the remarkable contribution of Victorian women who are trailblazers, local champions, change agents and emerging leaders.

Since the establishment of the Victorian Honour Roll of Women in 2001, we have honoured and recognised close to 750 women. I would like to thank the 2024 judging panel – excellent, extraordinary women – and I look forward to working with them again this year in the coming months as we induct more great Victorian women who are role models who every day address issues of gender inequality.

We are also investing in vocational education and training, we are doing our three- and four-year-old kinder programs, we are doing outside-school-hours care programs at small and regional schools and we are doing our continued roll-out of the government owned and operated early learning centres. We know that because women continue to earn less money than men, cost-of-living pressures impact harder on women, and that is why I am very proud that we are supporting families with our $400 school savings bonus as well as tripling our glasses for kids program.

Homelessness is another issue that is a real issue for gender inequality in this state. We know that women are particularly vulnerable to homelessness – those over the age of 40 and even more so women over 55. Significant contributors to this are the financial barriers that many women face throughout the course of their lives, which can include time out of the workforce, delayed career progression or family violence leading to economic and housing instability. So that is why we are investing $216 million in support for people experiencing homelessness.

What I want to say with the very limited time left is that when we put women at the heart of our decision-making, when we put a lens over women and the impact that our budget has on women, we make better decisions for all Victorians. We make sure that taxpayers money is being used to make sure that gender inequality in this state is being addressed. I am so proud that we are putting this into legislation. I am so proud that as a state we recognise that gender inequality is never acceptable.


You can take a look at more of my speeches to Parliament here.