The Hon Michelle O’Byrne, MHA, Minister for Community Development, Minister assisting the Premier on Local Government, hosted the Australian and New Zealand Ministers’ Conference on the Status of Women (MINCO) in Hobart on Friday 31 August 2007.
Ministers valued the opportunity to meet with delegates of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Gathering and acknowledged the vital leadership roles women play in their communities. The Gathering presented six recommendations to Ministers around the themes of increasing business opportunities, economic independence, employment and training. Ministers welcomed the delegates’ views and agreed on priorities for action. Ministers agreed that recommendations from the Gathering would be forwarded to the Ministerial Council on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs (MCATSIA) for their consideration in further development of the Policy Framework of Indigenous Economic Development.
In acknowledging the importance of the Women’s Gathering, Ministers agreed that all jurisdictions would support provision of a secretariat for the Gathering.
Ministers noted that the Australian Government will work with State and Territory Governments for Australia’s combined 6th/7th report for the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women.
State and Territory Ministers agreed to request the Australian Fair Pay Commission to undertake a program of monitoring and research on the Federal minimum wage and its impact on young women. Ministers noted that the Commission was undertaking a review on junior rates of pay from September 2007. States and Territories are encouraged to participate and contribute.
Ministers supported the recommendation of the Women in Social and Economic Research report: Women’s pay and conditions in an era of changing workplace regulations: Towards a ‘Women’s Employment Status Key Indicators’ database, to adopt commonly applied, working definitions in the pay equity debate.
State and Territory Ministers agreed to form a national working group to address issues of pay equity and consider the introduction of an Australian Workplace Industrial Relations Survey which includes consideration of gender analysis.
Ministers asked the Women’s Advisers Meeting to review the findings from research about the impact on women of industrial relations and welfare to work changes, and provide advice on additional industrial safeguards for vulnerable women in the workforce; as well as advice on improved monitoring and reporting.
Building on the commitment and funding agreed at last year’s Conference, Ministers were pleased to endorse and agree the distribution of the discussion paper Effectively communicating superannuation and financial literacy messages to women during their different life‑stages.
Ministers supported a cross-jurisdictional approach to investigating how micro-credit business mentoring and learning programs can be developed to support the workforce participation of women on low incomes. Recognising the importance of this strategy for women, Ministers agreed to fund a research project to support this work. Tasmania will take a lead on the project.
Ministers noted Victoria’s strategies to increase women’s participation in the workforce and the potential for further action to increase skill levels and provide support for participation through access to child care. State and Territory Ministers voiced their concern about the lack of action from the Australian Government in appropriately addressing access to child care.
Building on the priority placed by Ministers over the last two Conferences on increasing the number of women on boards, Ministers agreed to the Australian Government updating and publishing the paper National Strategy for Increased Participation of Women on Boards.
Ministers supported the establishment of a National Steering committee as requested by the Australian Local Government Association in order to increase women’s participation in Local Government. State and Territory Ministers supported the Australian Local Government Women’s Association’s request for Australian Government funding for the steering committee’s operations.
Ministers discussed the report of the National Trafficking and Sexual Slavery Working Party and acknowledged the complexity and gravity of the issues identified. It was agreed that all jurisdictions would report to MINCO in 2008 on progress they are making in addressing trafficking for sexual servitude.
Ministers noted the Women and Safety National status report which was commissioned at the Conference last year, and developed by the National Women’s Safety Taskforce.
The Australian Government’s Family Law Reform Package and its possible impact on women and children experiencing family violence was discussed. Ministers noted that the Community Services Disability Ministers’ Conference agreed to establish a formal consultative mechanism with States and Territories to oversee the monitoring and evaluation of the reforms. Ministers agreed that the Chair of MINCO will write to the Attorney General seeking details of the proposed process for consultation.
Ministers discussed the report on the Assessment of Pilot Programs for Overseas Trained Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Nurses. It was agreed that the report would also be referred the relevant Ministerial Councils in order to address the utilisation of overseas trained nurses, and specifically in relation to the planned introduction of the national health registration system. Next year’s Conference will consider responses from Ministerial Councils.
The progress on work agreed at last year’s conference on research on the economic impacts of gender-based occupational segregation was noted by Ministers.
Ministers discussed the plight of the Afghanistani Parliamentarian Malalai Joya and agreed that the Chair of MINCO will request the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Honourable Alexander Downer MP, to write to Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai to protest the expulsion and prosecution of Malalai Joya by the Wolesi Jirga.
The Conference was attended by the Tasmanian Minister for Community Development, Minister assisting the Premier on Local Government, The Hon Michelle O’Byrne, MHA as Chair of the meeting; the Queensland Minister for Women, the Hon Margaret Keech, MP; the New South Wales Minister for Women, the Hon Verity Firth, MP; the Western Australian Minister for Women’s Interests, the Hon Sue Ellery MLC; the Victorian Minister for Women’s Affairs, Maxine Morand MP; the South Australian Minister for the Status of Women, the Hon Jennifer Rankine MP; Ms Julia Burns representing the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Women’s Issues, the Hon Julie Bishop MP; Ms Sandra Lambert representing the Australian Capital Territory Minister for Women, Katy Gallagher MLA; Ms Shenagh Gleisner representing the New Zealand Minister for Women’s Affairs, the Hon Lianne Dalziel; and Ms Teresa Hart representing the Northern Territory Minister for Women’s Policy, Marion Scrymgour MLA.