Page 810 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 9 March 2005

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family lives interfered with each other. Family-friendly work practices have been shown to be conducive to more productive, integrated workplaces, delivering tangible benefits to both employees and employers.

Policy can direct change in workplaces. However, the challenge lies in changing the entrenched cultures of workplace practice and of our society in relation to the value of caring roles. Women make up just over half of our community and, in order for them to be recognised and valued as full participants, the issue of work and family balance is one that we need to progress as a community. Paid work is important. Caring and other forms of unpaid work are equally important. These are not simply women’s issues but issues that currently impact heavily on the lives of working families in our community.

The key objectives of our government include economic security, and health and wellbeing. Crucial to the realisation of these objectives is ensuring that women can access the provisions of work and family balance. The ACT government health action plan acknowledges the need for comprehensive cross-sectional approaches to respond effectively to the social detriments of health, including stress, social support and work.

Flexible workplace measures also encourage employers to develop policies that enable the participation in the work force of women with disabilities and older women. For women in the ACT, the government is committed to supporting and promoting flexible work arrangements in both the public and private sectors.

A tangible example of how the ACT government seeks to provide Canberra women with choices and access to flexible workplaces is the publication titled Expectant & new mothers: ACT workplaces, guidelines for employers and employees. The guidelines describe the rights of women during different stages of their working lives including pregnancy, returning to work after childbirth, breastfeeding at work and adoption rights. The aim of the document is to draw attention to the fact that family-friendly workplaces are the employee’s right and is conducive to a more productive, integrated workplace. The ACT government is committed to realising a healthy balance between work and family, for the health and wellbeing of our community and the achieving of economic security for the territory.

MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra—Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for the Environment and Minister for Arts, Heritage and Indigenous Affairs) (4.38): I too would like to thank Ms Porter for raising what is a very important matter in the Assembly today and I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak about the significant contributions that women in the ACT make to our community.

International Women’s Day is a global celebration of the achievements that women have made. Since the first International Women’s Day in 1911, observed in a number of European countries, women around the world have continually campaigned for their rights and for equality in many arenas.

Although cultural and social priorities are constantly changing around the world, women have always been at the forefront of working for peace, for human rights and improved living conditions. This year, while celebrating their achievements, women around the world are still fighting for gender equity and the elimination of discrimination, calling

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