Page 717 - Week 02 - Thursday, 10 March 2011

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the Assembly in February last year. I am particularly pleased to provide this statement as we celebrate 100 years of International Women’s Day. I note that it is also a matter for discussion as the MPI this afternoon.

What started, Madam Assistant Speaker, as women factory workers protesting at their working conditions has become an important way of celebrating how far we have come in our struggle for equality, safety and representation. The ACT, compared to other parts of Australia, is a community where women have made significant gains in achieving gender equity, particularly in the ACT public service. Overall, most women in the ACT are well educated, well paid and have opportunities to participate in decision making. The higher rate of women’s workforce participation here in the ACT and our relatively low gender pay gap reflects this.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics indicated that the gender pay gap in the ACT remains significantly lower than the national level of 17 per cent. For the commonwealth public service, there is a 12.5 per cent pay gap and, according to the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency, in November last year ACT women earned 11.6 per cent less than men.

When I last reported in this chamber on the outcome of the gender pay equity audit of the ACT public service in September last year, an analysis of the ACT Commissioner for Public Administration’s workforce profile for 2008-09 revealed a pay equity of 5.5 per cent, less than half that across the whole of the ACT.

The commissioner yesterday released her workforce profile for 2009-10, which I am pleased to say showed the pay equity gap in the ACT public service had reduced to 3.3 per cent. This is quite a remarkable achievement in just one year. I believe it shows the strength of our public service. For the first time the commissioner’s report included a comprehensive gender analysis of the public service. I am pleased that this will become a permanent section in all future workforce profiles.

The ABS also acknowledges that the workforce participation rate for women in the ACT was sitting at 70 per cent in January 2011, compared to a national average of 59 per cent. In January 2011, the unemployment rate for women in the ACT was three per cent, compared to the national average of 5.8 per cent. These figures show that most women in the ACT have greater employment opportunities and indicate that employers in the ACT recognise and value the positive contributions women make to the workplace. That said, this is not the experience for all ACT women. We know that women are overrepresented in low income households, in low pay sectors and in workforces where there are high levels of casual and part-time employment.

The ACT women’s plan 2010-15 articulates our commitment to valuing and supporting and investing in women and girls, as well as our ongoing commitment to promoting and safeguarding the freedoms and rights necessary for all women and girls to live and actively participate across all aspects of Canberra life. The women’s plan highlights key priority areas, all of which focus and encourage a whole-of-government and whole-of-community approach to driving change and progressing gender equity.

The ACT Office for Women is working closely with government departments to

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