Page 805 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 9 March 2005

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The needs are not being met, I would suggest. It is, therefore, quite a concern that the minister is continuing to allow women and their children to endure such unacceptable situations within public housing. I applaud these women and can only hope that the minister will revisit such cases that I have had constant communication with his office about, with a greater level of compassion and understanding in order to resolve their housing issues and to meet their individual needs. I totally agree with the plan, but we seem to have a very inflexible situation or a department that seems not able to be flexible enough. And I think Ms Porter herself alluded to that point about being more flexible.

Mr Speaker, that being said, I have had the pleasure of being involved in the events and talking to a range of women from all walks of life. It has been excellent. Many women whom I have met talked of the great strides made since the first National Women’s Day in 1908 in the United States. This helped to inspire, in fact, the first International Women’s Day event, which was held in Germany on 19 March 1911.

But it was also interesting, reflecting on the week and the events, that other conversations raised the interesting aspect of how men in our society seem to have lost their way, not really understanding the positive changes that have occurred for women. I guess that is a debate for another day, too, but it always reminds me of why we have such a high level of domestic violence. Ms MacDonald used some statistics—and I always get a bit concerned about that—but I will take it that generally we do hear that it is more men perpetrating offences against females than anything else. That is a concern. But I think we need to start, as a community—as indeed the ladies around my table were asking—to understand that we need to perhaps help men understand their role in life in order that the needs of women can be better met, if that makes sense.

It was interesting to note, indeed, that in a place like Cuba, where there was such a deeply entrenched macho attitude, in 1975, they changed the legislation, in fact, to announce a campaign against deeply entrenched macho male attitudes and practices. I thought this was quite a fascinating thing. A new marriage code, which made housework the responsibility of men and women, was part of this. And that was as early as 1975. So I guess that they chose to realise that men must be involved in a woman’s world.

I want to again congratulate Ms Porter for raising this matter and certainly again congratulate all the worthy women, particularly in Canberra. I want to acknowledge their efforts. A couple were young people who will continue, I hope, to be able to contribute in a very positive way to the Canberra community.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (4.17): I, too, want to thank Ms Porter for her speech. I think it is excellent when women’s issues are seen as a matter of public importance and, of course, this is the week in the year when it is considered okay by everybody to do that.

I made the decision to move to Canberra in the mid-eighties, not knowing what a good city it was for single women. I think I moved here because it was a city that was reasonably close to where I considered my home. If I had done an evaluation on liveability and support for single women with children, I think this is the city I would have chosen on those grounds—even then, in the mid-eighties, before there was a Labor government or an Assembly. I feel it was a supportive city because of its high number of

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