Ms Joy Burch MLA, Australian Capital Territory Minister for Women, hosted the Commonwealth, State, Territory and New Zealand Ministers’ Conference on the Status of Women (MINCO) in Canberra on Friday 17 September 2010.'
MINCO has been operating since 1991 and has been an important mechanism for Women’s Ministers from across Australia and New Zealand to meet, share information and progress issues of national significance, including violence against women and women’s economic security and leadership.
Women’s Ministers affirmed that all of their governments have been and remain strongly committed to achieving equality between women and men.
Gender equality architecture within and across governments, including the MINCO, plays an important role in progressing initiatives and policies which benefit women and women’s representation within the community.
In April 2010, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) gave in principle agreement to a reform of the current Ministerial Council system, following a review conducted by Dr Allan Hawke. Ministers noted that following the outcome of this review, the future of the MINCO is yet to be determined.
Women’s Ministers recognised the important role of the MINCO and would welcome the opportunity to continue its important work. However Ministers noted that equality between women and men needed to be a strategic consideration across governments and across the COAG reform agenda. Women’s Ministers directed their officials to continue working with those leading the response to the COAG Review of Ministerial Councils to ensure that it results in a strategic engagement with the issue of gender equality.
Ministers welcomed the opportunity to meet with delegates from the 2010 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Gathering (NATSIWG) and noted a suite of recommendations from NATSIWG 2010.
Future arrangements for MINCO and consequently its sub-committees, including both the Women’s Advisers Meeting (WAM) and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Gathering (NATSIWG), depend on developments around the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Review of Ministerial Councils.
Ministers acknowledged the need for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women’s agenda to be recognised as a priority at the federal, State and Territory level and committed to an ongoing dialogue with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.
Ministers received a presentation from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) about the status of the Australian Gender Indicators project. In the long term these Australian Gender Indicators will perform a useful function in measuring progress on the status of women and provide a means by which the effectiveness of equality initiatives across Australia can be measured.
Ministers endorsed the report Social and Community Enterprises: Pathways for Women’s Economic Participation, which MINCO funded in 2009. They also commended the Queensland Government’s plan to develop a forum to explore the issue of young women and unemployment in Australia.
In closing the conference, Ministers reiterated the importance of continuing to work together to improve equality of outcomes between women and men.