International Women’s Day – Ministerial Response
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Original adjournment matter from Juliana Addison MP to Parliament –
In the lead-up to International Women’s Day on Monday, 8 March, my adjournment matter is to the Minister for Women.
The action that I seek from the minister is to provide me with an update on how the Andrews Labor government is supporting and improving the lives of women and girls across Ballarat and the electorate of Wendouree.
The theme of International Women’s Day 2021 is ‘Choose to Challenge’, and I am proud to be a member of the Andrews Labor government, which is committed to gender equity and challenging the status quo. From our first-ever gender equality strategy to Australia’s first gender equality act, Victoria is leading the nation on gender equality.
The Andrews Labor government respects women and recognises the important contribution women make to Victoria. We have our state’s first majority women cabinet backed by government benches of 48 per cent women. Many of this government’s progressive reforms have been led by bold, smart and strong women sitting at our cabinet table, including wage theft, medicinal cannabis, workplace manslaughter, free TAFE, voluntary assisted dying and renewable energy as well as the world-first Royal Commission into Family Violence.
I thank the wonderful women of the cabinet for their leadership and for being strong role models for future generations of Victorian women, including the Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation, who is in the chamber.
The Andrews Labor government understands that with more women at the decision-making table you make better decisions. That is why we have gender parity on government boards and have committed to ensuring 50 per cent of all new appointments to Victorian boards and courts will be women, because when it comes to gender equality we know that we still have a long way to go. But our work will continue, and it is not over.
I want to wish everyone a very happy International Women’s Day and strongly encourage women and girls across Victoria to choose to challenge, because from challenge comes change. I look forward to receiving the update from the Minister for Women about how this government is making Victoria an even better place to live for women and girls and to sharing this information with my electorate of Wendouree.
Response from Gabrielle Williams MP, Minister for Women (4th May 2021) –
I thank the Member for Wendouree for the opportunity to highlight the work of the Victorian Government in supporting and improving the lives of women and girls across the state – including in Ballarat. I also wish to acknowledge the Member for Wendouree for her leadership as the co-chair of the Gender Equality Advisory Committee, newly established to drive gender equality across Victoria’s 79 local councils.
From our first ever gender equality strategy to Australia’s first gender equality act, Victoria is leading the nation on gender equality. The Gender Equality Act 2020 was enacted on 25 February 2020 and commenced on 31 March 2021. This landmark legislation will improve workplace gender equality across our public sector and contribute to gender equality outcomes for the Victorian community through improved policies, programs and services. The Public Sector Gender Equality Commissioner, Dr Niki Vincent, and the Commission for Gender Equality in the Public Sector will support defined entities, including public sector organisations, universities and local councils, to fulfill their legislative obligations under the Act.
The Victorian Government is also continuing to implement our ambitious gender equality agenda through the 2020-21 Budget, which commits $435 million to progress gender equality and end family violence. This funding will support women’s social and economic recovery from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and initiatives that promote gender equality across the state.
In Ballarat, the Victorian Government is currently funding Women’s Health Grampians (WHG), one of Victoria’s twelve women’s health services, $200,000 to deliver Year 3 and Year 4 of the Women’s Health Services Workforce Capacity Building Program. Through this program, WHG is leading the Communities of Respect and Equality (CoRE) Alliance, a network of 123 member organisations across the local government, health, sporting, education, local business and community sectors, to build the region’s capacity to engage in primary prevention of family violence efforts – and make communities and homes safer for women and girls. This funding complements funding of $50,000 provided to WHG in 2020 as part of our COVID-19 mental health surge funding package, which is supporting the organisation to recruit and train Youth Equality Advocates to promote women’s safety, health and wellbeing.
The Andrews Labor Government has also supported the Brotherhood of St Laurence’s Stepping Stones to Small Business program since 2017-18, with funding of $1.2 million over three years. Delivered in Ballarat and in partnership with the Ballarat Regional Multicultural Council, this program is tailored to women from refugee, migrant and asylum seeker backgrounds, and provides opportunities for participants to achieve financial wellbeing through starting a small business, finding employment, training pathways, mentoring and support. It has supported 298 women across Victoria.
It was fantastic to have the Member for Wendouree recently join me on a tour of The Orange Door in Ballarat, which we proudly opened just over six months ago. The Central Highlands Orange Door has already serviced more than 6,000 people from across Ballarat, Ararat, Golden Plains, Pyrenees, Moorabool and Hepburn. The Orange Door network is an Australian-first initiative bringing together a range of supports – from risk assessments, safety planning and crisis assistance, to ongoing and sustained support – to ensure there is no wrong door for women seeking assistance. This new service enables local women and children affected by family violence in Ballarat to access a suite of support options in one place. Thanks to changes in laws around information sharing, we have also removed the barriers which prevented information about perpetrators from being shared effectively – something that has previously led to catastrophic consequences – and are keeping perpetrators to account, and women and children safe in Ballarat.
I remain as committed as ever to improving the lives of women and girls in Ballarat and across Victoria, particularly as we begin to recover from the significant impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on gender equality. I would be delighted to meet with stakeholders in the electorate of Wendouree to discuss the Andrews Labor Government’s work to promote gender equality in all areas of women’s lives.