Wednesday, 9 December 2020
Questions without Notice
Boosting Female Founders Initiative
My question is to the Minister for Women, Senator Payne. Can the minister update the Senate on the Morrison government's support for female-led start-ups across the country and how this will help build a stronger economy following the COVID-19 pandemic?
I thank Senator Chandler for her question. Just this week, the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, Minister Karen Andrews, and I announced the first 51 grant recipients in the Boosting Female Founders Initiative. These are grants that are going to help some of our best and brightest women launch their ideas for the future. The initiative supports these women entrepreneurs to grow their businesses and, ultimately, to create jobs for all Australians. We do know that female founded start-ups do face additional challenges in getting the finance that they need to establish themselves and to grow as businesses. Through the 2020 Women's Economic Security Statement, we have invested over $35 million in the Boosting Female Founders Initiative. That will provide grants of between $25,000 and $480,000 to 282 start-ups that are majority owned and led by women. It will also provide tailored mentorship and advice to up to 4,300 women entrepreneurs.
The businesses are very diverse. They include businesses like Champion Life, a health education technology company which facilitates the development of lifelong healthy habits in young people. They include the award-winning Woolcool Australia, which is an innovative, sustainable packaging business that uses Australian wool for its products. They include a really interesting New South Wales business, based in the Hunter. The owner and operator is Cherie Johnson, an Aboriginal arts and education consultant who works on Aboriginal cultural capacity training and on cultural workshops, amongst other things. Amongst the 51 grant recipients, there's an extraordinary diversity of activity and there's an extraordinary diversity of businesses. It's because we believe in private sector led economic growth as well as in boosting women's workforce—
I know that, being from Tasmania, the senator will be very interested in this particular question, even if some opposite are not. This government is committed to boosting the confidence of rural and regional women in returning to paid work, as well as in supporting businesses to retain skilled women workers. The Senator Cash, and I recently announced the second intake of regional visitors that will benefit from the Career Revive pilot initiative. Under this initiative, business owners receive expert advice on how to improve their business practices and policies in order to remove the barriers that exist to women's workforce participation. It does help them to develop tailored action plans to attract and retain skilled women. Through this measure, regional businesses will be able to attract more women back to work after they've had an extended career break. It will strengthen regional business, boost women's employment in regional areas and rebuild our national economy.
This year we have, with Samoa, co-hosted two Pacific women led virtual meetings—over 30 women from more than 18 different countries—to discuss our responses to the issues challenging the region during the pandemic. It is a really important opportunity for those views to be heard, and I hope to host a further meeting before the end of the year. With the United Nations, we're also supporting local women's networks and peacebuilders to address gender based violence and to reduce isolation and exclusion. In the Solomon Islands, for example, we've supported increased involvement of women leaders in vital provincial roles helping with disaster management. We also know the risk that COVID-19 poses to women's health and safety as well as to their economic empowerment, leadership and resilience. This is a central priority of our very, very important Partnerships for Recovery strategy, including in our individual country programs in the Indo-Pacific.