Under ACT Labor, the ACT is leading the nation when it comes to tackling the challenges women and girls face in the 21st Century.
We have the highest proportion of women in the paid workforce, the highest female representation on government boards and committees, and the lowest gender pay gap in the country. In May this year the national gender pay gap stood at 17.5 per cent while the gap in the ACT was just 12.8 per cent. Additionally, as of June this year the gender pay gap for the ACT Public Service workforce was 3.3 per cent, down from 5.5 per cent in 2008-09. This reflects the ACT Labor Government’s strong record of supporting gender equity and workforce participation.
ACT Labor firmly believes it is the right of every individual to live free from violence and harassment. We recognise that women are more often the victims of gender-charged domestic, sexual and family violence. The ACT leads the nation in supporting victims of domestic violence and sexual violence with wrap-around support models, prevention and intervention programs. The Government recently released Our Responsibility: Ending violence against women and children: ACT Prevention of Violence against Women and Children Strategy 2011-2017, which sets out clear objectives and strategies to address family violence.
In government ACT Labor has been proactive in supporting women’s safety at public events by developing the Women’s Safety Audit Toolkit and by conducting Women’s Safety Audits at ACT Government events. We also continue to apply a ‘gender-lens’ to the ACT Government’s Triple Bottom Line reporting and measure progress against the ACT Women’s Plan 2010-2015.
ACT Labor is proud of what we have achieved for Canberra’s women. But we know there is more to do to make Canberra an even better place for women, which is why we have announced several policies that will continue to support women and girls in our community to fulfill their potential. These include:
Early childhood education
ACT Labor knows that women are still the primary carers of young children and can face long stints away from the workplace because of this. We understand that access to affordable and quality childcare is an important component in assisting women return to the paid workforce.
ACT Labor has already announced its commitment to:
Provide $4.5 million to deliver more affordable quality childcare across Canberra to create up to 100 new childcare places.
Release at least three additional sites for new childcare centres.
Provide $6,000 scholarships for early childhood education and care educators wishing to get a degree in early childhood education.
Extend our Certificate III scholarships program with $740,000 to give 90 more early childhood educators the chance to further their education.
Women’s health services
ACT Labor understands that women have unique health needs. We are proud to have delivered the purpose-built Centenary Hospital for Women and Children in Woden as part of our $1 billion plus commitment to new health infrastructure. But the demand on our women’s health services continues to grow as our city and region’s population increases.
ACT Labor has already announced its commitment to:
Continue our investment in women’s, children’s and babies’ health with $30 million for an extra 19 beds at our Centenary Hospital for Women and Children, and to increase access to outpatient services and to community-based women and children’s services.
Provide $850,000 for a Birth Centre at Calvary Public Hospital for women.
Review birth projections, particularly for Canberra’s northern suburbs, to inform future expansions to maternity services.
If re-elected, ACT Labor also reaffirms its commitment to a range of measures recently announced by the ACT Government to support Canberra women.
Women’s Financial Literacy Program
Financial understanding can empower a woman to make positive, independent and confident economic decisions. We know that nationally, more women than men live in a low income household and a higher proportion of lone mothers live in low income households than lone fathers. We also know that many women are living out their retirement close to poverty and relying on government payments.
ACT Labor reaffirms its commitment in government to deliver free, targeted women’s financial literacy programs across the ACT, with one-off funding of $20,000 for one-day, one-off women’s financial literacy programs across the ACT. ACT Labor’s women’s financial literacy program will offer free financial advice to Canberra women with a focus on achieving long-term financial security.
The ACT Government will work with non-government financial advice providers to ensure participants receive sound expert advice and information. These programs will build on participants’ financial knowledge and assist women to financially prepare for life beyond the workplace.
Audrey Fagan Violence Prevention Grants Program
ACT Labor reaffirms its commitment in government to introduce an Audrey Fagan Violence Prevention Grants Program.
The National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022 highlights the troubling fact that as many as one in three Australian women have experienced physical violence and almost one in five Australian women have experienced sexual violence from the age of 15. Although incident reporting remains low, we know that violence against women happens in the ACT and that we as a government and as a community have a responsibility to challenge and change this.
The Audrey Fagan Violence Prevention Grants Program will provide $45,000 per year to ACT community groups which demonstrate a commitment to furthering the objectives of the ACT Prevention of Violence against Women and Children Strategy 2011-2017.
The Audrey Fagan Violence Prevention Grants Program will help community organisations and government to form an even stronger collaboration to break the silence of violence against women and progress an agenda of positive change.
Audrey Fagan Women’s Leadership Program
ACT Labor reaffirms its commitment in government to introduce the Audrey Fagan Women’s Leadership Program.
This Program will consist of 2 two-day courses for 25 women and will be delivered by the Australian Institute of Company Directors. In total 50 women will participate in this Program each year.
ACT Labor believes that women should have the opportunity to reach their fullest potential. We believe this course will give women the confidence and the skills to help them reach the boardroom and be leading decision makers throughout our community.
Women’s Safety Auditors Training Program
ACT Labor reaffirms its commitment in government to provide one off funding of $10,000 to train a team of Women’s Safety Auditors.
ACT Labor believes that everyone has the right to participate in our community free from the fear or experience of violence or harassment.
Women’s Safety Audits have been conducted at the Multicultural Festival and at the 2011 Australia Day Live Concert. These have been a positive asset in creating safe public spaces and community events. We will therefore provide one-off funding of $10,000 to train a team of Women’s Safety Auditors who will have the skills require for undertaking this important assessment.
Women in construction
The strong attendance at the annual CIT Girls-Try-a-Trade-Day every year indicates that many young Canberra women are interested in non-traditional jobs.
ACT Labor reaffirms its commitment in government to facilitate an all-women construction project to help increase women’s participating in the local building industry.
The Housing ACT Women in Construction project will focus on an existing Housing ACT property in Richardson which has recently becomes vacant, and is now scheduled for redevelopment to two 4-bedroom properties that will be adapted for use by people with a disability.
Supporting women in our Clubs
In September this year the ACT Government signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with ClubsACT.
A key commitment of the MoU is a mentoring program to support and enhance the role of women in the club industry. Currently, 60 per cent of the over 2,000 people employed in local clubs are women. ClubsACT has already established the Women in Clubs Network which will work to acknowledge and promote the role of women in the local clubs sector, with the Minister for Women and Minister for Gaming and Racing as the Network’s patron.