Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Sittings . . . . PDF . . . . Video

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 12 Hansard (Thursday, 25 November 2021) . . Page.. 3762 ..


I would like to state for the record that the CFMEU ACT does not have a board. It has an executive of three members who are elected by the membership. And while it is true that there are currently no women on the executive of the CFMEU ACT, Ms Lawder fails to recognise the work that the union is doing to progress women’s representation within the union, as well as women’s rights and conditions at work. The CFMEU is a democratic organisation of construction workers. Its membership is reflective of the diversity of the construction industry, including in relation to gender balance. This gender balance in the industry is something that both members and the executive are focused on improving.

In order to ensure that women construction workers have a voice in the union, the ACT branch has established a women’s committee made up of women who work in construction, which participates in a range of activities intended to support women working in male-dominated industries and occupations. The women’s committee provides support to women members and participates in the decision-making bodies of the union, including its branch conferences.

The branch conference is a mechanism by which all rank-and-file members have the opportunity to direct the policy of the union. At the 2019 branch conference, the women’s committee proposed, and the conference unanimously endorsed, a plan to develop a gender equity and active bystander training course specific to the construction industry. This proposal was the result of extensive discussion by the women’s committee about their experience of working on construction sites, and in particular in non-trade occupations, where often there may only be one or two women out of a workforce of several hundred men.

Women on the committee expressed the view that it was not reasonable to expect women to change the culture of the construction industry all by themselves and that the most effective intervention in circumstances of gender-based harassment that any of them had experienced was when a male construction worker spoke up against it and performed the role of an active bystander. The CFMEU is working with a registered training organisation, guided by the women’s committee, on the development of this course. The development of the training course is being coordinated through the position funded by the industry coordination project grant which Ms Lawder was referring to yesterday.

I also note that the branch has been working with members for several years to ensure that, through enterprise bargaining, enforceable clauses have been included to ensure that employers are supporting gender equity initiatives and supplying gender equity and active bystander training courses. This broad approach is consistent with the recommendations of the recent report by RMIT and women in construction exploring the barriers to, and supportive enablers of, wellbeing in the workplace.

Women on boards is one measure of the progress of gender equity in the construction industry and in other industries. However, it is not the only measure. A demonstrated and supported commitment to bringing the experience of women working on the ground into all decision-making processes is another. The work that CFMEU members and officials are undertaking through a range of initiatives—and supported


Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Sittings . . . . PDF . . . . Video