House debates

Monday, 21 June 2021


Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2021-2022; Consideration in Detail

5:51 pm

Photo of Sussan LeySussan Ley (Farrer, Liberal Party, Minister for the Environment) Share this | Hansard source

I'm delighted to reflect on some key budget initiatives within Prime Minister and Cabinet—the area that we're considering today, following on from the member for Tangney, the assistant minister—and really emphasise that we have absolutely made this budget a landmark budget about women, with $3.4 billion in new measures to improve outcomes for women's safety, economic security, health and wellbeing. That, of course, includes our $1.1 billion in funding for women's safety, the biggest ever investment by a Commonwealth government; $1.9 billion to support women's economic security, including $1.7 billion to improve the affordability of child care for Australian families; and $351 million for women's health and wellbeing.

Our approach to developing this Women's Budget Statement has been informed by our values of respect, dignity, choice, equality of opportunity and justice, and these are fundamental to the safety and economic security of women in Australia. Through the package of bills on the government's investment for women in Australia, including under the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children and the 2018 and 2020 women's economic security statements, everyone has a basic right to safety, equality and respect in our society. We all have a responsibility to address gender imbalances in Australia and create real change and genuine advancements for women and girls.

We are committing more than $400 million across a range of measures to provide additional legal assistance funding for women, to boost investment in children's contact services, to reduce safety risks and to expand family advocacy support services. These measures include $129 million in additional legal funding to women's legal centres to help women access justice. This funding will be directed to women's legal centres to enable these providers to respond to the increasing demand for domestic violence assistance.

An extra $101 million will be put towards children's contact services to reduce safety risks to family law system users, including the establishment of an additional 20 children's contact services. When you look at separated families, desperate to see their children, waiting in queues to have access to their children through children's contact services, I know just how important these 20 new centres will be. Almost $85 million will be invested in the family advocacy and support services to maintain, enhance and expand access to their services. More than $60 million will fund the reform of family law case management in the federal family courts to improve outcomes and better meet the needs of families and children.

The government will invest an additional $9 million to further implement the recommendations made in the Respect@Work report. The Attorney-General spoke in detail on this. I thank the member for Curtin, who's with me in the Chamber, for her close involvement in getting this response right, which we have done. We now have a Roadmap for Respect. It drives amendments to improve the legal and regulatory responses to workplace sexual harassment and includes interim funding to continue the targeted delivery of support for women experiencing workplace sexual harassment while the government consults with the states and territories. That's our commitment in our Roadmap for Respect. We're also investing $5 million over three years to build evidence and further develop primary prevention initiatives to respond to sexual harassment. We'll also invest $6 million over four years for the Workplace Gender Equality Agency to work with the Respect@Work Council and extend reporting to the Australian public sector.

Women's workforce participation is a social and economic priority. It's critical to Australia's recovery from COVID. That's why we've prioritised investment in child care. The budget includes targeted measures to increase choice and flexibility for women addressing barriers to working in the paid workforce and to support women to build financially secure futures. As part of our plan to secure Australia's recovery, we're investing an additional $1.7 billion in child care, building on around $10 billion already provided annually. We are removing the child care subsidy annual cap, and, starting in July 2022, increasing childcare subsidies will be available to families with two or more young children, benefiting around 250,000 families by giving them greater choice and flexibility to manage work and care. The child care measure is so important. As a former minister for child care, I know that families are counting on us and we are delivering.

We're investing money for National Careers Institute partnership grants; we're investing in women in STEM, to really encourage young women to take up science, technology, engineering and maths; and we're focused on improving retirement outcomes for women. This budget demonstrates our continued commitment to creating more opportunities for Australian women.


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