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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 3 Hansard (7 March) . . Page.. 812 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

trade is definitely related to what is happening to women not only in developing countries but in this country.

There is a discussion now going on globally about an agreement on trade and services. The service industry is made up mostly of women and it is, of course, one of the industries which have low paid workers. We have had the huge debate in this place about the SACS award. Of course, women carry a very disproportionate load of poverty, not only in developing countries but also in this country. Poverty is, of course, extremely relevant to women in crisis and women being forced to go to crisis accommodation. We know that poverty is a result of federal government policies on welfare. It is a result of the employment situation that we have in this country.

Mr Humphries has to say he condemns the federal government's approach to employment if he is serious about trying to address inequality for women in our community. Mr Humphries has to do that to have any credibility. He cannot sit here and say, "But we are the ACT and what the Liberals in the federal sphere do has nothing to do with us." You just cannot get away with that. You have to say that you condemn it, because you know that is impacting on poverty, and you have to say that you care about poverty.

We know that women are more likely to be in casual and part-time work, so they are going to have a much harder time as older citizens. We heard today from Mr Stanhope-or maybe it was Mr Moore-that we are seeing the problem of more older women needing crisis accommodation. That is interesting; that is something that we need to be looking at. I think you will find that the structural causes of that are definitely related to deregulation of labour and what is happening to the ability of women in the workforce to receive benefits and to get superannuation, long service leave and so on. Women are more likely to be casual or part time.

I think the general issues of how women can access support in this city have been covered. There are real issues relating to how we are supporting women who are disadvantaged because they do not have English as a first language or are not educated, and so on. Then there is the whole question of where education fits in the paradigm. It fits very clearly. The society that wants to see equality also has to make sure that education is always free and accessible to all people regardless of their circumstances. A lot of the women who are struggling in the Australian community do not have an education. Those women who have come from other countries especially need to be much better supported in learning to speak English and also, of course, being trained for employment opportunities so that they are not so vulnerable. The only thing they can do when they are living in an intolerable situation is finally, in absolute desperation, go to a women's refuge. If women in these circumstances are lucky, there is an exit option, although under the current government in the ACT those exit options are getting harder to find unless you are particularly in crisis.

Then, of course, you have a revolving door because, with the segmentation of the waiting list, you are going to get a focus on a couple of groups who are most at need. What has been shown to happen right across Australia is that other people who are struggling for financial reasons are not going to be able to access housing. This means that you are creating a poverty trap for those people because they are going to be in the private sector, they are not going to cope and they are going to have real trouble dealing with a situation

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