Page 3072 - Week 09 - Thursday, 13 October 2022
As Mr Orr has highlighted, a significant proportion of the workforce experiences reproductive health issues, such as menstruation and menopause. For many people, health issues such as period pain and menopause symptoms, can be uncomfortable—most of us here can attest to that, that’s for sure!—or even debilitating. As Minister for Women, I am happy to have had the chance to speak to this motion today and acknowledge the Period Products and Facilities (Access) Bill, which is before the Assembly. This motion—like the member’s bill—is a positive step in the conversation we are having in our community about how we can better support individuals who are unable to access menstrual products, and who are experiencing menstruation-related health issues.
Like any other health issue, this can understandably affect an individual’s ability to concentrate or focus, or even attend work all together. It is important that all workplaces and the broader community continue to destigmatise reproductive health matters. I was interested—and it did bring a smile to my face—to hear Ms Orr’s experiences of watching the Harry Potter program and wondering why Hermione did not ever get a period cramp. I was trying to think of a movie where that happened. And it did happen, and there was blood, in Puberty Blues. That was well before Harry Potter. We just somehow missed a step in all of that and did not continue the story for the young people of today, so that they are able to see the experiences of young women just like them on the big screen.
As a queenager experiencing the delight that is called “the change”, I am particularly pleased that Ms Orr has mentioned menopause in this motion, because it definitely does bring a change—sweats, hot flushes, fogginess, inability to concentrate and weight gain. It is definitely a change—and a part of life that really actually sucks—but I am happy to talk about it, and I am glad that it is something that we are talking about as a result of this motion. The community can gain confidence from hearing us talking here, in a public way, about these issues and the things that women go through, so that people in the community can feel more comfortable talking about that with dignity.
Through the ACT government’s progressive, consultative and inclusive approach to industrial relations and enterprise bargaining with trade unions and our workforce, we have continued to improve the terms and conditions of employment which are enjoyed by the government’s workforce. In the last round of bargaining, we introduced leading and innovative leave provisions, including to cover disability, surrogacy, miscarriage, and gender affirmation, and this has been supported by our ability to introduce change, and attract and retain the best possible people to provide services in the ACT.
The important topic of reproductive health, including menstruation and menopause and fertility care, has also been discussed during the current round of bargaining. Any claims in relation to this topic, and more broadly, will be part of some of the bargaining discussions that we have. I know that Ms Orr’s aim here is to raise the awareness of the government and members of this place about these important issues. The government recognises that some members of our workforce, unfortunately, for a range of reasons experience reproductive health-related challenges, and need to be supported in their workplace in this regard. The ACT government is a progressive leader in social policy, including gender equity and women’s full economic participation. Our 2021-26 Women’s Plan articulates our commitment to removing