Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2016 Week 03 Hansard (Tuesday, 8 March 2016) . . Page.. 740 ..
We need to support women’s dreams for family and their aspirations for children, as well as financial and career success. I am passionate about getting these fine details of change done so that we can really mean it when we say to our daughters that they can choose what they do with their lives.
On one hand women’s passion for family and home needs to be strengthened, respected and encouraged. When we make policy decisions in the parliaments of Australia, we should always be thinking about those women who want to be at home; otherwise we are not really supporting choice, as I mentioned. We have not yet finished making all the necessary changes. It is not just about promotion; it is also about return to work and feeling welcome in the workplace. We have come so far, but let us not lose sight of the fact that there are so many changes still to be made.
When a woman announces a pregnancy in our ACT-based labour force, how do we respond? Do management have any training about how to respond to that? I know we do have equity and diversity training, but I am not sure that this is dealt with in the best way that it could be. A lot of women get asked questions when they are pregnant and in the workforce, as we found through the previous Sex Discrimination Commissioner’s report—questions like, “Was it planned?” “Are you done yet?” or “Was it an accident?” et cetera. These are demeaning and negative statements, and women often feel quite in a bind when it comes to how to respond. We need to promote the responses that are the best in the situation and also promote the fact that this is not a positive way to speak to women about their commitment to the community in raising the next generation.
The difference for women and men regarding having children and pregnancy is that women wear their choices on their bodies. When we go to work and we are pregnant, there is no way that anyone will not know. When a father goes to work and his wife is pregnant, the world only knows if he tells them. The questions that women are asked about their commitment to work and about whether they really want to advance can be quite distressing. As we know from the statistics in Elizabeth Broderick’s report, a great number of women choose not to return to work because they do not feel welcome there.
I applaud the minister for her motion. I hope that when we come back each year we will have better and better statistics to report.
MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (11.36): I would like to thank Ms Berry for bringing on this motion today—International Women’s Day—and for her ministerial statement that she delivered earlier in celebration and recognition of women and in acknowledgement of the disparities that exist between men and women both here in Australia and in many other countries. Minister Berry outlined comprehensively how far our society has come in terms of improving the status of women but how much further we still have to go to achieve equality on indicators right across the board; not just pay indicators but health, welfare, personal safety, financial security and representation.