Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 09 Hansard (Tuesday, 11 August 2015) . . Page.. 2616 ..
charges. This government only knows how to increase the net burden on people. There is no tax relief from this government. Tax reform for them is simply additional tax revenue into their coffers so that they can squander it as they see fit.
MRS JONES (Molonglo) (5.02): I am bringing to the attention of the Assembly today under this line number my concerns regarding the women’s portfolio, and to talk about the need for transparency in how the budgeted money is spent in this area and how outcomes are accounted for. This government have continually shown that they are not willing to show transparently how money is spent on improving outcomes for women. The portfolio is now grouped with output class 3.1, along with a range of other elements in the community participation services group.
In December 2013 this government closed the Women’s Information and Referral Centre, with no plan as to how, where or when the services would be delivered. They then spent the next year justifying the decision, in an effort to convince people that the services would be delivered in a better way, while cobbling together a plan. We are now told that there is a hub-and-spoke model to the government’s service provision that the government continually assert is delivering the services that women want. However, there is no data to back up this claim, only an assertion. No research was conducted into what women want or need. There was no community consultation. There do not seem to be any specific outcomes that we are trying to achieve.
There is no quantifiable evidence of who is attending the sessions for women at the health centres now in Gungahlin, Belconnen and Tuggeranong, and what topics are being raised over the few days worth of visits that are being attended by Office for Women staff out in the community—someone sitting behind a desk waiting to see who might accidentally come by and discuss issues affecting women.
Minister Burch made the decision to save the rental costs for this facility, and took money out of many long-established services for women—services that were often helping the most vulnerable in our city, in a site which was well known and where at least a given clientele knew that they would be able to access what they needed when they needed it. Now we have a new minister who is yet to produce any evidence to support the change in service delivery. No actual data is kept, it seems, to show how women are being helped by this new model of delivery, and there is no evidence that the services are reaching those who actually need them.
The minister has shown she has no plan for the services for women and has no focus on actual, specific outcomes for women. This government has no outcomes to claim for the women’s portfolio and services for women in Canberra. I would say that I do strongly support the rewriting of resumes which is going on at the Office for Women.
However, there is no clear budget for services for women; it is now part of a shared area. We heard the minister in estimates discuss the benefit of shared resourcing within the Office for Women and Office of Multicultural Affairs and how they gain savings by deploying the staff at the Office for Women in other areas. The government has not been up-front about what the budget for the Office for Women is, and how exactly the money is spent. Is it actually helping the women in Canberra who need it the most? That is possibly unlikely.