Gender Equity


It is said that in human endeavour we often take two steps forward and one step back. This certainly sums up the journey to gender equity in this country and, ostensibly, globally. I stand here today on the shoulders of the women who came before me in the Labor Party. I want to mention Susan Ryan and the work she did in this parliament to progress gender equity. I want to mention my predecessor, Julia Gillard, who was our first female Prime Minister but also, more importantly, as a young woman, was critical in commencing movements within Victoria and a founding member and life force—with the assistance of Joan Kirner, former Premier of Victoria—behind the creation of EMILY'S List, which drove women's representation in the parliament in Victoria and in this parliament from the grassroots up.

But it does feel like two steps forward and one step back, and it has done for my nine years here, while I've watched our side of the parliament grow to having 52 per cent representation of women and the opposite benches reduce in the number of women, year on year. This is at the core of the problem and why women's equity has been stagnating across the last decade. It is about attitudes and it's about actions.

I am absolutely thrilled to follow the member for Higgins today and to thank her for putting this forward. She's outlined many of the things that this government has committed to doing in its first six months in government to get gender equity back at the front of the decision-making for an Australian government. I am very proud to be a member of that government and proud to see the women's budget back, central to the October budget delivered by the Albanese Labor government. It is actions like this that change the way people think. It is actions like this that drive the changes that drive gender equity in our communities. I would echo both speakers before me in the reflections they made on how limiting the situation we are in now is for us nationally.

I welcome, of course, the child care changes that will see 37,000 effective full-time workers—women, potentially —back into the workforce. I welcome the lift of the ban around declaring what you earn, so that people know what they can aspire to earn. It has limited gender equity for some time. I welcome that transparency about salaries.

I welcome 10 days domestic violence leave and what that means. We measure what we care about, and in this country—and in most countries—if it has an economic impact, it will see action from government. Believe me, we know that domestic violence is having an economic impact. We just need to demonstrate it through measurements, and DV leave is a key way to demonstrate the economic impact of domestic violence in our workplaces. Therefore, we'll see governments of all persuasions commit to getting rid of it, on economic grounds if not on human grounds.

I welcome also the National Plan to End Violence against Women and Children, launched by Minister Rishworth most recently. I welcome the 15 per cent pay rise for the aged-care workers in our care economy, and the changes of the Fair Work Commission just in terms of having a government that supports wage increases. I welcome the five per cent wage increase to those on the minimum wage, of whom we know an enormous number are women. I share the member opposite's concerns around the childcare workforce and how we're going to attract and retain women in that care and education industry. I know that that will start when they can earn more doing the most important work of early education. When they can earn more doing that then they can stacking shelves, then we will be able to attract and retain workers in that most important industry. I welcome the changes to paid parental leave, which will allow families to make decisions, to spend the time they need with their families and to rejoin the workforce. I commend this motion to the House.

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