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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 10 Hansard (Wednesday, 6 October 2021) . . Page.. 2803 ..

participation of women in the construction industry is so important and why it is a focus of the Second Action Plan.

The Office for Women is currently working collaboratively across directorates, as well as with industry, peak bodies and unions, to deliver actions focused on women in construction and to make progress against the target for 10 per cent female employment in the construction industry in the ACT, which was set as part of the Second Action Plan.

The government is also helping women who have experienced a break in work to gain secure employment. The ACT Women’s Return to Work Program is an ACT government initiative that assists women to achieve increased financial independence by helping them to prepare for and obtain and maintain employment. The program is targeted towards women who have been away from paid work for an extended time due to caring responsibilities and who may experience significant barriers when they try to re-enter the workforce. Individual grants of $1,000 are available for women who meet the eligibility criteria. The program is designed to provide funding for training and education, to develop job research skills and to access related resources to support women to return to work. This can include childcare expenses.

We all know that the gaps also contribute to problems later in life for women who are looking to retire, as we have heard, with little superannuation. I am committed to ensuring that our public servants receive equitable access across superannuation.

MS BERRY (Ginninderra—Deputy Chief Minister, Minister for Early Childhood Development, Minister for Education and Youth Affairs, Minister for Housing and Suburban Development, Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence, Minister for Sport and Recreation and Minister for Women) (3.42): I start by thanking Ms Orr for highlighting the impact and pervasiveness of the gender pay gap. This is especially important during the ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as many of the sectors that are most essential and at the forefront of the pandemic response are dominated by women who are also bearing the brunt of increased unpaid work and responsibilities. Also relevant in this context is the concentration of women in undervalued and insecure work such as cleaning and hospitality.

This year’s ACT Woman of the Year, Sonam Choden, reminded us all of the reality as she protested alongside other United Workers Union members for fair remuneration for women employed as essential workers at Calvary Public Hospital during the pandemic last year. Sonam is an incredible woman who has brought about awareness that women have been disproportionately affected by COVID and who has advanced gender equality and respect for migrant women in her own workplace.

I was really pleased to hear Ms Lawder refer to community service workers in the ACT, particularly around the equal remuneration order that was put in place by the Fair Work Commission to provide better pay for women working in that sector, acknowledging that it was and is a female-dominated sector. The ACT government was one of the first governments to implement that pay and continues to provide that pay in the ACT to ensure that those workers get more equal pay.

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