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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 14 Hansard (Tuesday, 7 December 2010) . . Page.. 5858 ..

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (3.34): I thank Ms Porter for bringing forward this matter of public importance. I suppose, in a way, it bookends nicely with the last matter of public importance that we debated in this place, which was in relation to men’s health. I am pleased to be able to speak on both those matters. It shows how multiskilled I am.

As Ms Porter has said, it is axiomatic that women play a very important role in the ACT community. I appreciate the importance of supporting and valuing women as we do through this matter of public importance today.

It comes as no surprise to us that the women in the ACT make up slightly more than half the population—50.3 per cent of the ACT population—and make a considerable contribution to our community and to our ever-growing economy. In the last 25 years, there has been a remarkable shift in the economic circumstances of most women in the community. As a mother of five amazing young people myself, I understand the cycle of life and that at many times for women there are many pressures involved in managing a family along with a career and maintaining a healthy, sustainable work-life balance.

On the subject of work-life balance, I would like to pay particular tribute to the work of Women’s Forum Australia, an organisation that I have been involved with for some time. Women’s Forum Australia is an organisation that seeks to promote initiatives that support women’s freedoms. The organisation has undertaken extensive research to investigate “the conflict between women’s work and life goals, impacts of conflict, and solutions for achieving better work life balance”.

The extensive research spearheaded by Canberra 2008 Telstra business woman of the year, Lynne Pezzullo, of Access Economics, included a focus group, a literature review and a web-based survey with over 950 respondents. The survey revealed that women are juggling more with various roles such as mothering and paid work. It found that women spend 78 hours per week in paid and unpaid work compared to 73 hours for men. This is an improved ratio over previous surveys. The survey also revealed the following:

Women experience more emotional impact from work life conflict—over half feeling rushed, pressured and exhausted, and have a higher frequency of conflict than men—nearly half reported conflict a lot, almost always or constantly, compared with around one third of men. Moreover, the issue of work life conflict has increased more for women and is expected to continue to increase more in future.

Other notable outcomes of the survey revealed impacts of work-life conflict:

The major casualty of conflict for women is self-care, with over half of Survey respondents reducing personal care, exercise or leisure, although this increases health risks …

47% had curtailed family desires due to other commitments; 16% delay having children and 18% do not have children, despite the desire to have them, sometimes as a consequence of not having time for relationships …

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