Page 812 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 9 March 2005

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quality of life for women by providing practical assistance in the form of court support, education, health care and other assistance. Beryl’s work, which is very much the work of women, has made a real difference in our community, providing women and children with opportunities to increase their knowledge, skills and confidence.

There were other award recipients last night of course and there have been a number of wonderful women who have received recognition in previous years, certainly too many to speak about today. The publication Honouring our women, released in December last year, profiles the stories of 19 local women. This booklet is one way in which we have sought to ensure that the achievements and contributions of Canberra women are recognised.

The ACT women’s grants program is a new initiative that has been identified in the 2004-05 budget. The program has generated significant interest from the community with over 60 individuals and organisations submitting applications to undertake a diverse range of projects. Twenty-one projects will receive funding for a range of projects that contribute to the objectives of the ACT women’s plan and enable community organisations to enhance their capacity to provide programs and services that meet the needs of women in the ACT.

The recipients of these grants are women and organisations that support women in our community. The community education and training program, which will receive $10,000, will work to develop information forums, skills workshops and training programs to assist women from diverse backgrounds to gain employment in the ACT community sector. The Multicultural Women’s Advocacy Service, which will receive $2,500, will work to expand its membership base, strengthen its governance capabilities and further its links with women from other community associations and women’s service agencies.

In supporting the right of all women to participate equally in shaping all aspects of society, we are strongly committed to encouraging and supporting female representation on boards and committees. We are currently developing the ACT women’s director scholarships program, which aims to develop the skills and knowledge of women who are or aspire to be in high-level decision-making roles. The program will offer a choice of two directorship courses, which are conducted by arrangement with the Australian Institute of Company Directors. The program will certainly assist women in undertaking important leadership roles and to gain recognition in the Canberra community.

I encourage all members to celebrate the contribution of women in the ACT and to continue to support and progress initiatives and programs that advance the status of women in the ACT. Again, I thank Ms Porter for raising this very important matter of public importance. It is a debate that we need to continue to have, recognition for the contribution that we continue to need to make. To some extent, I think it continues to take many of us by surprise that in 2005, in Canberra, in Australia, we still find the need to acknowledge the contribution of women and to acknowledge and recognise the range of impediments or unequal treatment or apparent discriminations that are suffered or faced by women here in our community and, indeed, throughout Australia and the rest of the world.

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