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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 1 Hansard (11 December) . . Page.. 53 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

I also acknowledge that there was an argument for a broad positional look to be had at the way in which women fare in the ACT community and their access to services, opportunities, employment and lifestyles that are appropriate to their needs and their position. Therefore, I think a motion such as this, giving an Assembly select committee the chance to be able to overview the position of women today, is timely and to be supported.

There are many issues, of course, that such a committee could examine and I suspect it will need to exercise some judgment about how far it roams across an area, subsets of which have been matters of very thick and voluminous reports in other areas in other parts of Australian political life in the past.

It will be necessary to consider, in particular, how it is that the ACT can leverage off its very fortunate position as a community, with many privileges others don't enjoy in Australia, to appropriately enhance the position of women in a way which ensures that we further advance the very significant gains made by women in this territory in the last few years.

Mr Speaker, I hope that this report will be a fruitful one. I can indicate at this stage that the shadow spokesperson for women, Mrs Cross, will sit on that committee on behalf of the opposition. I look forward to seeing its report about 12 months from now.

MS DUNDAS (12.23): I would also like to express my support for the establishment of the Select Committee on the Status of Women in the ACT. It is extremely important that the differential impact of government programs on women is fully analysed and documented. Women's organisations have, for a long time, called for the establishment of systems to achieve this.

A sound understanding of the differential impact of existing programs on women is essential in order to plan future policy. For too long the policy process, through its failure to analyse differential impacts, has compounded the disadvantages faced by women in many spheres of life. To compound disadvantage, policy-makers do not merely discriminate. Disadvantage can be perpetrated when policy-makers merely neglect the different roles and situations that women experience relative to men.

This select committee, I believe, will assist the Assembly in incorporating a better understanding of the differential impact of policy on the status of women in the ACT. Although, as we have mentioned today, there are concerns about the great workload on the crossbench in terms of committees, I believe that the matters that this select committee will consider are important enough to justify its establishment.

MS GALLAGHER (12.24): I would just like to say-and I am conscious of the time-that I appreciate the assistance of Ms Dundas, Ms Tucker and Mrs Cross in establishing and finalising the terms of reference for this select committee.

In 1998 when Labor lost the ACT election we went back to our constituencies and held a number of consultations, of which Labor Listens to Women was one. The result was a decision to form a select committee to look into the issues that were raised in those consultations. I see this as a very positive initiative and I look forward to working with Mrs Cross and Ms Dundas once the committee is established.

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