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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 12 Hansard (Wednesday, 24 November 2021) . . Page.. 3644 ..


commissioner have “the capacity to specifically intervene and engage in child protection processes”. This specification is important. Seventeen years ago, the Vardon report recommended that the territory establish a children and young people commissioner with similar powers. The Labor government went ahead and created the Office of the Children and Young People Commissioner but, once again resistant to actual reform, did not grant to the commissioner any actual power to intervene in child protection processes.

Here we are, 17 years later, with a nearly parallel recommendation. I was told in hearings that the temporary advocate was being put in place specifically to deal with the Indigenous communities’ frustration with the delay in getting their commissioner. Indeed; but let us be honest: if Labor had given the Children and Young People Commissioner the powers that were originally recommended in the Vardon report in 2004, we may not be in this situation right now, with a child protection system that is not compliant with our own human rights law and with demands for a commissioner specifically to deal with child protection matters within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.

In answer to my question in hearings, I was told that the powers for the new commissioner were “part of the conversation”. No, Mr Deputy Speaker; on this point, the conversation is well and truly over. It is absolutely vital that legislation be amended in order to provide the new commissioner with the power to intervene in child protection decisions, as demanded by the community.

MS CLAY (Ginninderra) (4.58): I would like to make a few comments on the budget in my capacity as ACT Greens spokesperson for women. For a long time, government budgets have had different impacts on men and women. The answer to this is to put a gender lens on the budget to make sure that we are not inadvertently neglecting programs and policies that women need to access true equality at home and at work.

It is especially important during COVID to apply this gendered lens. COVID has had a disproportionate impact on women. Women are less economically secure. They play a greater role in undertaking unpaid household and caring responsibilities. This has had a particularly big impact when children cannot go to school or day care. The feminisation of the frontline education and healthcare sectors has led to women working in lower paid industries and occupying lower paid positions than men.

Recent studies have shown that, as well as suffering a worldwide COVID pandemic, we are suffering a worldwide “great resignation”. Even this is unequal, though. Women are resigning from their jobs at far greater rates than men. The great resignation is not about women exercising more choice in employment. It is not a bunch of women choosing to spend quality time in other ways. It reflects the fact that women can no longer do it all. They have picked up more of the unpaid caring of children sent home from school, the mental load of the pandemic and the constant juggle of working from home, which puts more burden on them. They simply cannot balance it with their jobs.

We are seeing this in every trade, profession and sector. Women are resigning at a greater rate than men. Even those who do not resign may earn less or perform below


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