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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 09 Hansard (Tuesday, 21 August 2018) . . Page.. 3354 ..

I acknowledge the great work done by a number of different seniors groups, some of whom wrote submissions to or appeared before the estimates committee this year. They include but are not limited to COTA ACT, ACT Seniors, the Superannuated Commonwealth Officers Association, men’s sheds, and the YWCA. I also acknowledge the work of OWLS—Older Women Lost in Housing. There are many, many other groups and I thank them for the work they do in our community to improve the lot, the rights, the access, the inclusion of people who are over 50, over 55, over 60, however you would like to define it. There are also a number of seniors clubs: Tuggeranong 55 Plus Club, Canberra Seniors Club and Woden Senior Citizens. There are clubs all over Canberra who work very hard on inclusion and providing activities and interest groups for older people.

I will also make some comments on behalf of my colleague Mrs Jones in relation to the women’s portfolio. There has been some slow and small progress in this space, thanks to efforts by opposition MLAs—for example: a breastfeeding room audit of ACT public service directorate buildings, which led to installing privacy latches and locks on all doors that did not have them, and portaloos for women firefighters stationed at a fire site for extended periods of time—however, more should be done.

When wast the last time the ACT government spoke with women in the public service about what they would like to see done to make their lives easier? How can we improve the workforce for mums returning to work?

The big ticket item in this year’s budget is the diversity register, which aims to support greater representation of women and other diverse people on boards and committees as well as offering a board traineeship program and improving evidence relating to the benefits of gender equality. (Second speaking period taken.)

This is an important initiative that we need to support, but it does not do much for women who do not feel safe at night in their own suburbs or streets. It does not do much for women who are struggling to pay their rates bills, which continue to increase. It does not do much for women at risk of homelessness or experiencing homelessness. Instead, this is just another government program aimed at very few select and generally well-off women to further their career goals. It does not help the daily lives of many Canberra women.

Unfortunately, this budget does little for women’s safety. The Labor-Greens government talks a big game when it comes to women, equality and their safety. However, this has not led to tangible results on the ground. All women have the right to feel safe and secure in our community, but this government does not seem to care if an overwhelming majority of women do not feel safe. Clearly they do not feel safe.

The budget papers show that this government are satisfied that only 38 per cent of women feel safe while walking alone in public places at night, and they do not plan on raising these targets any time soon. I find this alarming, even more so in the context of decreasing front-line police officer numbers compared to the beginning of the decade, as well as the government’s general neglect of our suburbs and lack of street lighting.

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