Page 3823 - Week 12 - Thursday, 24 October 2013

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MRS JONES: With regard to the “Getting back to work—for women” program, will that be delivered through a family and child centre? Has it been in the past? Or will it be provided by somebody else or will it not be provided?

MS BURCH: I do not have the details as to whether it is an internal program or facilitated through an external organisation. I am happy to take that detail on notice. But there will be change. After 35 years, people will say, “Why change it?” I would say that the city has changed, and over 35 years it would be wrong if we did not think about change and a suite of offerings to support women. Indeed, Mrs Jones, I think you have often raised, particularly in Gungahlin, the issue of how we provide services close to them. That is what we are seeking to do.

The ministerial women’s advisory council met just this week, so I took the opportunity of a lunch break to meet with that ministerial advisory council on women. There is very strong support in recognising that to unpack this, to get it out of one single central location and to better utilise our existing infrastructure and our existing community partners across a range of programs, is the sensible thing to do. What we need to do now is take the next bit of time between now and Christmas and work with the women’s sector about what those new offerings will be.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Ms Porter.

MS PORTER: Minister, what other ways do women access information that they might access through that service?

MS BURCH: I thank Ms Porter for her question. Over the last 12 months—I will use the figures in approximate terms—there have been over 12,000 contacts through WiRC. What we have found is that a high number of those contacts were through phone or internet. That shows to me that, as we move towards a more connected, internet available source of information across our services and across Canberra, many women choose to access this information in their own time, outside of nine to five or Monday to Friday.

That said, we always need to have access for women who do want to come in and be part of the support program. I think there are two needs. Certainly, I think in a modern society we need to be more in tune to the internet savvy woman who can take control and find the information she is after. That will be available. But also through this change there is a very clear commitment from us to the women’s groups that I have spoken to to ensure that those vulnerable groups, vulnerable women, that benefit from a face-to-face program will still have access to that.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Ms Lawder.

MS LAWDER: Minister, was the decision to close the centre taken before a clear plan was established to deliver according to the needs of women?

MS BURCH: We have made the decision not to renew the contract and I have some very clear internal thinking and discussions with the Office for Women and CSD

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