Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 14 Hansard (Tuesday, 7 December 2010) . . Page.. 5857 ..
a ballerina who is undertaking a two-year full-time ballet program in Sydney and hopes to join the Royal Academy of Dance, and a violin maker who wants to improve her skills and learn more about the trade.
The ACT women’s directors scholarships also seek to help women achieve positions of leadership. These scholarships were introduced in 2005 as part of the ACT government’s commitment to achieving equal representation of women in decision-making roles. Twenty scholarships have been provided to date. Recipients of the directors scholarships attend training delivered by the Australian Institute of Company Directors to develop their knowledge, skills and abilities to work in high-level positions and hone their leadership skills. ACT government funding of more than $11,000 is provided for these scholarships in each year.
Finally, I would like to give a brief outline of the newest grants program run by the Office for Women, the micro credit program, which was launched by the Minister for Women in March 2010. It enables women entrepreneurs to establish and/or develop their businesses by providing interest-free loans of up to $3,000 to women on low incomes. It is assisting the growth of a diverse range of businesses for women on low incomes, providing them an opportunity to take their idea that one step further. To date, women have applied for loans for a number of innovative business ideas—a lingerie business which is tailor-making garments for women with special needs, foreign language training for pre and primary school children, workshops that teach women techniques in applying make-up, a girls clothing designer and the creator of a specialised fabric.
The program is managed by the Lighthouse Business Innovation Centre. The centre provides free workshops and seminars and assists women to develop their business ideas into a plan. As at 30 September 2010 the full annual allocation of 10 loans has been approved since the program was launched on 12 March 2010.
Through these grants programs, the ACT government is demonstrating the value it places on supporting women to further their education, pursue their dreams and return to the paid workforce. Gone are the days when policy making revolved around the premise that a woman’s career ended when she got married and had children or, indeed, that this was the only measure of her achievement. Today we recognise the valuable contribution that women make in all aspects of life—in the workforce, in academia and, of course, in community service. To this end, the ACT Office for Women is making a valuable contribution in supporting women in our community to achieve these goals.
Just as an aside, I was pleased to hear the minister for sport, when presenting his paper just a few minutes ago, mention the contribution to women’s sport which is being made by the club industry.
I commend all of the women and girls who through their hard work and initiative make a huge difference to their own lives and to others in the community. The ACT government is proud to be able to work with women and girls to help them make that difference and to do all it can to support and value women in the ACT.