Senate debates

Thursday, 4 August 2022


Working Women's Centres

1:54 pm

Barbara Pocock (SA, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

Like so many women across Australia, including women here in this chamber, I've experienced sexual harassment in more than one workplace. I know firsthand that when such a thing happens there's nothing more important than sharing your experience and having the support of fellow workers, family, friends, trade unions and specialist support organisations. I personally found such support essential. All women, no matter what their background or where they live or work, should be able to readily access the support they need if they experience assault, sexual harassment or discrimination.

In light of this, today I'd like to highlight the important work of independent working women's centres, as illustrated by the work of the South Australian Working Women's Centre. I'd like to recognise that both our party and the Labor Party committed in the election to the implementation of recommendation 49 of the Respect@Work report, which was to establish and fund working women's centres in every state and territory. The Working Women's Centre in South Australia is a place that I'm incredibly proud of and a model that provides confidential, independent advice to a wide range of vulnerable women who experience all kinds of workplace challenges. In the 2021-22 financial year, some of their achievements included recovering over a million dollars in compensation and lost wages and helping nearly 2½ thousand workers.

The centre supports diverse and vulnerable women. Almost half their clients are engaged in precarious work and nearly half live with a disability. These stats demonstrate the vital and highly effective service provided by the South Australian centre, and I want to acknowledge their work; their current director, Abbey Kendall; and the many directors, board members and staff who preceded her. They do an amazing job. Every state and territory in Australia needs a centre this good. I look forward to the government acting on their commitment to establishing such a centre in every state and territory in the near future.