Senate debates

Thursday, 2 September 2021

Statements by Senators

Working Women's Centres

1:56 pm

Photo of Louise PrattLouise Pratt (WA, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Manufacturing) Share this | | Hansard source

Just this week the Leader of the Opposition announced that Labor in government would commit to funding working women's centres in every state and territory. As we reflect on this government's very shameful and limp response to the Respect@Work report and the recommendations of the Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Kate Jenkins, it is worth this place remembering that, every day, frontline workers dealing with sexual harassment claims around the country need somewhere to go. Working women's centres have historically provided free confidential assistance and advice about these kinds of matters, including about sexual harassment, wage theft and discrimination. It is essential for all women and all workers to be able to address these confronting workplace issues.

The Morrison government's response has been to slash funding to working women's centres almost entirely, disregarding the essential role they play in finding support and justice for these working women. Each centre requires about $700,000 a year to run, but the Morrison government in its most recent budget set aside only $200,000 for Queensland and Northern Territory centres combined. Sadly, this leaves South Australia as the last independent service, and that is not good enough.

The government's inadequate response to Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins's Respect@Work report should have included funding for working women's centres. These are critical, and it is a problem that Labor is prepared to fix. Labor will properly fund working women's centres in Australia and properly protect working women in our country.