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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2000 Week 3 Hansard (8 March) . . Page.. 695..


Ministerial Statement

MS CARNELL (Chief Minister): Mr Speaker, I ask for leave of the Assembly to make a ministerial statement on International Women's Day.

Leave granted.

MS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, as you are aware, today is International Women's Day. I am taking the opportunity of this global celebration to comment on the achievements for women here in the ACT. International Women's Day is celebrated every year throughout the world when women from all cultures and all generations celebrate the gains women have made in society. The day provides an opportunity for women to come together to reflect on their achievements and reaffirm their goals. And we can look at how these achievements for women can contribute to making our community a better place for all of us.

The Government is now in a position to know much more about who and where ACT women are. We have just released a very important publication called "Women in the ACT - A social and demographic profile". This is the first time such a detailed report about women has been done in the ACT. It is an important resource which will enable government and the community to more efficiently and effectively develop policies and programs by having available information about the current status of ACT women in many areas of their lives. These include their age and background, health and wellbeing, living arrangements and housing tenure, participation in employment and education, and issues of violence and safety.

The available data tells us that women in the ACT are, on average, better off than women nationally in a whole range of areas, including paid employment, income, health status, education levels and participation in sport and cultural activities. The participation rate of young women between 15 and 19 years in secondary school is much higher than the national average. For example, for 17-year-olds approximately 93 per cent of ACT females attend secondary school, while the national figure is about 66 per cent. It is important that, for the future, women continue to maintain their high levels of participation in school and university and continue to enter a wide and diverse field of studies.

The workplaces of the twenty-first century will demand that people be more highly educated and able to use information technology. The statistics indicate that women in Canberra are progressing faster in all age groups in using information technology than women in other States or Territories. This should enable women to have good job opportunities in the future labour market and to have access to a lot of very useful information affecting their lives.

Work force participation levels for women in the ACT (65 per cent) are also much higher than the national average, which is 55 per cent. While the public sector is still the main employer of women, in future there will be further shifts of employment growth from the public to the private sector.

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