House debates

Thursday, 8 October 2020

Questions without Notice

Health Care

2:58 pm

Photo of Nicolle FlintNicolle Flint (Boothby, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Women. Can the minister update the House on how the Morrison government's plan for economic recovery is helping to protect the health and safety of women?

2:59 pm

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

I thank the member for Boothby for her question. As one of the staunchest advocates of women's health in this place, particularly with her work on raising awareness of endometriosis, the member for Boothby is certainly interested in how we are building on our track record in supporting women's health.

As the Minister for Health knows, it's breast cancer awareness month. Since April last year we've listed three major breast cancer drugs. Tuesday's budget creates a landmark PBS New Medicines Funding Guarantee, which provides new funding for the new listing of medicines. One of these is Lynparza, which will be made available for the treatment of ovarian cancer. An average of 300 patients a year will benefit from a drug that would otherwise cost $140,000 per treatment. But it's not just existing treatments that we want to invest in. Last year, through the Medical Research Future Fund, we announced $20 million for research into finding a cure for this awful disease.

Women's health matters. Women's safety and security matters. Since 2013 the Commonwealth has committed more than $1 billion to reduce violence against women and their children, actions that can never be excused or justified. Research from the Australian Institute of Criminology indicates that the COVID pandemic coincided with the onset or escalation of violence and abuse for many women. Home is not always a safe place to be. For those who need it, help is available now. Very early in the pandemic the government committed $150 million for the COVID domestic and family violence support package, including $130 million to state and territory governments, all of which received the full allocation of funding; $20 million will boost capacity for our national programs, including 1800RESPECT and MensLine Australia, and the states will work with crisis accommodation frontline services.

Our plan for jobs supports Australian women. A strong economy supports Australian women. A strong economy is central to the financial and personal wellbeing of Australian women. It was this government that created the first Women's Economic Security Statement, and Tuesday's budget backed that in, with $240 million in new measures—new cadetships, new apprenticeships, a measure for female founders and entrepreneurs and a new Respect@Work council to support women's safety. We recognise that Australian women made up the majority of those who lost their jobs during the crisis. These jobs have started to come back: 60 per cent filled since May by women. Before the pandemic, women's workforce participation had reached record highs, and the gender pay gap was at a record low. We are determined to get back to those levels. It's encouraging progress. We know we have a long way to go. But we're up for the task and committed to seeing it through, because we know that women's economic security is a crucial part of Australia's overarching economic recovery.