Page 2371 - Week 08 - Tuesday, 28 June 2005

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There was some discussion on whether there was a need for a minister for men in addition to a minister for women. The prevalence of youth suicide among men was noted by a Member as an example where they believed there would be benefit from the sorts of approaches being achieved for women across government through there being an Office of Women and a responsible Minister.

My colleague Mr Seselja brought up this issue at the hearing and I had brought it up before. I guess what I am saying here is that it would certainly assist the needs of women if the needs of men were to play a more integral part within the Office of Women. I know that sounds odd, but we cannot take one without the other and some thought ought to be given to that.

It is encouraging to hear the statement by the minister. It can be backed up with a serious refocus by taking, as I have just suggested, a two-tiered approach. There is no doubt that women have historically been dreadfully disadvantaged in a number of ways and there is much evidence to support this. Interestingly, though, there is little evidence to support the argument that men, in some similar ways, face some of the challenges that women face. We do not seem to have documented that as well, and I think that might be useful data to collect to correlate those two things so that we can better target funding in the future. This may well be a challenge that the Office of Women might like to devote some efforts to, with the ultimate aim of discovering how the disadvantages faced by men in our society today directly or indirectly impact upon women and children.

I believe it would be beneficial for the Office of Women to further strengthen its ties with some of the men’s groups in the ACT and men within the broader community to harness a better understanding of some of the benefits of cross-pollinating in relation to sharing information that will strengthen policy development that is beneficial to the needs of women and men. For the sake of the wider community, it is imperative that the Assembly work together to find practical ways forward in addressing some of the imbalance in society between the needs of women and men.

MS MacDONALD (Brindabella) (4.04): Mr Speaker, I had not intended to speak on this line item but I cannot let that last speech go by without making a few comments. Mrs Burke has brought this up a few times. She seems to make this very strange link that providing an office for the status of women leads to depression in men.

Mrs Burke: Whoa! I never said that. What rubbish.

Mr Seselja: I think she is verballing you, Jacqui. When they don’t know they make it up. Make it up, Karin.

MR SPEAKER: Order, members.

Mrs Burke: I was congratulating the government.

MR SPEAKER: Order, Mrs Burke.

MS MacDONALD: Mrs Burke has made the comment about youth suicide with men. She has been quoting issues to do with youth suicide in men in relation to the ACT Office for Women. I do not really get where the link is between that and funding the Office for Women, which is what the budget line item is about, Mrs Burke.

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