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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 12 Hansard (Wednesday, 24 November 2021) . . Page.. 3645 ..

their usual level. One particularly stark example is academia. Women’s publishing rates have declined while men are publishing more than ever before.

The impact of COVID on women extends much further than the great resignation. Domestic violence, homelessness and entrenched poverty have deepened during COVID. Carer relationships of all kinds have rebalanced, and not always for the better. We will be dealing with the fallout for years.

These are worldwide challenges, and they are cultural and economic phenomena. I do not expect any government to fix these wicked problems overnight; but in the ACT, we have a progressive government and we are a progressive jurisdiction, so we should do all that we can. We need to take greater care to consider the impacts of government spending, programs and policies on women.

In the parliamentary and governing agreement, we have a commitment to apply a gender lens to the budget. I am pleased to hear that the Office for Women has been progressing this in stages. I am also pleased to see the women’s budget statement, although I note that this is a retrospective statement of what is in the budget rather than a proactive tool used to shape it.

During recent estimates, I sent out a series of gender lens questions to ministers to see how their directorates were implementing this gender lens. Gender budgeting is a new way of doing business and it requires detailed consideration of gender at the outset of policy formation, as well as at every step of program delivery. It then needs detailed review to see how policies have differently impacted women and those who are gender diverse. Unfortunately, the answers I received showed that we are still at a very early stage in this. Gender budgeting and the tools that implement it are not being collated or tracked across the ACT public sector.

We have a lot of work to do to apply the gender lens to our budget. I am concerned that we are losing ground due to COVID. Women who leave the workforce often struggle to return; and if they do, they will often do so at lower pay. Women affected by domestic violence, homelessness or poverty often enter a cycle of social and economic pain that is very hard to break. It is important that we progress this as quickly as possible. Our COVID recovery should be a gender lens recovery.

I look forward to seeing the gender lens applied at the front end for next year’s budget and for all government decisions. I also hope to see the Office for Women suitably funded to support this.

MR DAVIS (Brindabella) (5.02): I rise to speak on the 2021-22 ACT budget in relation to the Community Services Directorate as the ACT Greens spokesperson for young people and the elimination of family and domestic violence.

Firstly, on behalf of the ACT Greens, I would like to thank our wonderful CSD public servants for their tireless work in the sector over the lockdown period. Supporting the community sector and the ACT government to provide support to Canberrans is an integral function of this directorate. Without the tireless work of these public servants, the last COVID lockdown would have looked very different in the ACT.

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