Perth, Western Australia
The Hon Robyn McSweeney, Western Australian Minister for Womens Interests, hosted the Australian and New Zealand Ministers Conference on the Status of Women (MINCO) in Perth on Friday 2 October 2009.
Ministers met to bring about action and progress in areas of national significance, including womens economic status, leadership, and safety.
Providing Australian women with greater leadership opportunities is crucial to a sustainable economy and a key priority area of MINCO.
Ministers welcomed the attention to address and improve the representation of women on government, private and community boards.
Ministers noted the inadequate performance of the private sector in promoting women to their boards and senior leadership positions. MINCO will explore the application of targets to improve board membership.
Jurisdictions will consult with their governments on a revised national strategy and guidelines to increase participation of women on boards which is being developed by the Australian Government, with a view to endorsing a complete strategy at MINCO 2010.
Ministers resolved that all Australian women should have access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services including:
- a full range of family planning services;
- prevention of unplanned pregnancy; and
- safe and legal medical and surgical abortion.
Ministers welcomed the opportunity to meet with delegates of the 2009 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Womens Gathering (NATSIWG). Representatives presented Ministers with a range of recommendations around the themes of economic security, human rights, health, wellbeing and safety.
Ministers acknowledged the substance and value of the recommendations and are pleased to provide funding to extend the Womens Gathering for another year.
Building on work to advance womens economic security, Ministers agreed to provide additional funding to finalise and release a Business Toolkit, aimed at assisting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women build their business skills.
The Conference approved a draft set of national indicators on the status of women, led by NSW, in recognition of the importance of benchmarking womens progress and evaluating policies and programs. Given its national focus, the Australian Government will lead the next stage of the project, with MINCO contributing $30,000 to this project in 2009-10.
Ministers asked officials, the Womens Advisers group, to develop a strategy that ensures that priority gender indicators are identified and incorporated into the work of all government decision-making bodies, including COAG.
Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to advancing womens economic security as a priority issue in recognition of the widening gender pay gap, noting that the issue is being pursued through a number of Australian Government-led Reviews and Inquiries.
The MINCO Chair will write to the Fair Work Ombudsman to encourage consultation with womens portfolios in the development of pay equity related tools and guidelines. In anticipation of the release of the pay equity inquiry report, a second pay equity forum is scheduled in late 2009 to scope future government action in this critical area.
Ministers acknowledged the impact of the global financial crisis on women, noting that policy responses across all levels of government need to account for their differential impact on women and men.
The Conference supported a commitment by jurisdictions to identify opportunities to promote young womens labour market participation, recognising that young people are disproportionately affected by the current economic climate.
Ministers agreed that Queensland would lead a working group on young women, unemployment and the implementation of strategies to overcome barriers to young womens employment.
The Conference welcomed the timely release of research into ways micro-credit can be used as a tool to enhance economic engagement opportunities by low income women in Australia, which will have flow-on benefits for children and families.
Ministers agreed to provide Tasmania with $20,000 towards research into models of Social and Community Enterprise to promote womens economic participation.
The safety of women has long been a key focus area of MINCO, realised and progressed through the Safety Taskforce sub-committee. Ministers welcomed COAGs endorsement of the development of the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women, noting it is a cross-jurisdictional plan of action requiring a coordinated effort to reduce violence against women.
Ministers reviewed the Safety Taskforce and agreed to discontinue this working group in recognition that its role has been overtaken by initiatives under the National Plan and the establishment of the new Ministers Council on Violence Against Women.
Ministers congratulated South Australia on the ‘Dont Cross the Line, a new anti-violence awareness raising campaign, aimed at 18 to 25 year old people. The media mix includes television, radio, print and online advertising, and a website as its call to action.
In closing the conference, Ministers acknowledged the significant ongoing cooperation and consultation between Commonwealth, State, Territory and New Zealand Ministers in advancing the status of women.
The Conference was attended by the Hon Robyn McSweeney, the Western Australian Minister for Womens Interests (incoming Chair); the Hon Karen Struthers MP, Queensland Minister for Women (outgoing Chair); the Australian Government Minister for the Status of Women, the Hon Tanya Plibersek MP; the Hon Gail Gago MLC, the South Australian Minister for the Status of Women; Ms Maxine Morand MP, the Victorian Minister for Womens Affairs.
Representing Ministers were Mrs Heather Butler MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier and Whip, representing the Hon David Bartlett MP, Premier of Tasmania; Ms Jenny Scott representing the Hon Malarndirri McCarthy MLA, the Northern Territory Minister for Womens Policy; Ms Gillian Ferguson representing the Hon Linda Burney MP, the New South Wales Minister for Women (who participated via teleconference for the NATSIWG presentation); Ms Sandra Lambert representing Ms Katy Gallagher MLA, the Australian Capital Territory Minister for Women; and Ms Shenagh Gleisner representing the Hon Pansy Wong, New Zealand Minister for Womens Affairs.