PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 7359


Photo of Hawke, Robert

Hawke, Robert

Period of Service: 11/03/1983 to 20/12/1991

More information about Hawke, Robert on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 18/07/1988

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 7359

Your Excellency Lady Stephen,
Dorothy Ross,
Members of the Country Women's Association.
In '. 1922, the Bushwomen's Conference was held at the Royal
Easter Show in Sydney.
From those small beginnings, the Country Women's Association
has grown to become the largest women's organisation in
Australia, with 56,000 members in all States and
Territories. Through its wide network of regional branches,
the CWA has worked tirelessly over more than 60 years to
improve the welfare of women and their families, especially
those living in isolated rural areas.
Country women have always by necessity been self reliant and
resourceful. They know what it means to make do, and to get
things done. They have coped with floods, drought,
recession and, now, they are coping with the impact of
changing international economic conditions.
Any study of Australia's rural development would be
incomplete without recognition of the vital contribution
made by the Country Women's Association by setting up
maternity hospitals and baby health centres, by working over
decades for Aboriginal welfare, by seeking better
educational opportunities for rural women.
In these and other ways the CWA has always worked, and is
still working to ensure country and rural women can
participate fully and effectively in all spheres of
Australian life.
Nor has the CWA ignored the changes in the Australian
economy which are making it necessary for us to become more
outward-looking, more competitive in what we do, more
diverse in what we produce.
It's a transition which is affecting life in every part of
Australia and posing challenges to all Australians.

Advances in agricultural technology mean that farmers now
need more sophisticated training to manage their businesses.
Changes in communication have also brought the city and
country closer together, and have quickened the pace of
country life. International tourism is making a rapid and
welcome impact on our cities and towns.
Rural women, have been steadily moving to adapt to these
changes and they have been greatly assisted in their efforts
by the Country Women's Association.
The CWA has shown an active interest in international issues
through its affiliation with the Associated Country Women of
the World. I have noticed your increasing interest in our
Pacific region which was reflected in the Seventh South
Pacific Area Conference of the Associated Country Women of
the World held earlier this year in South Australia.
For all these reasons I was very pleased to accept your
invitation to address this Conference.
Late last year my good friend Dorothy Ross wrote to me about
the world Heritage Listing of the Wet Tropics of North-east
Queensland. Dorothy pointed out that the CWA is very
conscious of the environment and is anxious that the land is
cared for. But she expressed the CWA's very understandable
concerns about the effect on families in the area of World
Heritage Listing.
Australian women and I think country women in particular
have shown a special concern for our natural environment.
Country women have an especially close relationship with
Australia's natural heritage, as many of your families
derive their livelihood from the earth. You have a natural
respect for the abundance of nature, and an appreciation of
the fragility that our natural environment often displays
with, for example, soil degradation, salinity and drought.
Your awareness of and concern for our natural environment is
something my Government shares.
I have responded to Dorothy, and I want to assure you all
here today, that through our package of assistance measures
my Government will do everything it can to ease any economic
hardship faced by families in. the region of the world
Heritage Listing.
We will create up to 600 jobs this financial year and will
be making available up to about $ 75 million in assistance
over three years. The area is one of unsurpassed
environmental magnificence and I am sure that World Heritage
Listing will contribute to the tourist potential of the
region which will of course itself create additional job
opportunities. 395

A second important environmental matter is the Government's C(
recent decision to control substances harmful to the ozone H
layer. Just last week Cabinet decided to give effect to the c(
Montreal Protocol on ozone layer protection in fact we are
prepared to go further. For example, agreement has been S
reached with industry to stop using chlorofluorocarbons in c
aerosol sprays, for all but limited essential purposes, by
the end of next year. We will be consulting with the States V
and other interested parties on details of the necessary P
legislation. c
Muriel Pagliano, your State President here in Queensland, aa]
has written to me expressing the Queensland CWA's support
for our moves to protect the ozone layer, and I want to. say A
that your support is most welcome and most heartening. u
I want to say a little today specifically about the m
Government'Is programs directed specifically at women i
because it is a record of achievement of which I am proud w
and because it is a record of achievement in which the CWA
has itself played a significant role. Ri
In Queensland, it's particularly appropriate I should make f
mention too of the Federal Minister whose responsibility it W(
iosf wtoo means sistQ uemee nsilna ntdh e Sdeenavteolro pmMeanrtg arofe t pRoelyincoiledss . o n the status. PS
As you would be aware, the Government is continuing to work cf(
on the National Agenda for Women the most detailed,
practical and comprehensive strategy ever produced by am H
Australian Government to achieve equality of opportunity for we
Australian women.
In keeping with the goals of the National Agenda, the tF(
Government set out two years ago to ask rural women what are a(
their major concerns and priorities. 1:
That decision was prompted by a suggestion from Do rothy that T1
we survey the special needs of rural women. w fe
The CWA, in conjunction with the Office'of the Status of 0
Women, conducted the survey which resulted in the report
" Life Has Never Been Easy". Dorothy and I launched this 4 Re
report in Bathurst last February. a' Ht
The survey reveals health, education and training, childt1
care and transport which are basic needs in any community
as specially important~ for rural women endeavouring to T1
bring up a family without ready access to support services. He
Let me today speak briefly on the way the Government is l
endeavouring to respond to the needs that were identified in
the survey. A
I have asked departments to develop programs to implement t
the Action Plans outlined in the National Agenda for women, e
taking into account the findings of the Rural Women's Survey P
and the community consultations that followed it.

Many women identified health care as a priority. The
Commonwealth is currently developing a National Women's
Health Policy, as part of which the Commonwealth, in
co-operation with the States, is funding a three year
million program to evaluate and co-ordinate breast
screening trials, and to establish and evaluate cervical
cancer screening services, especially in rural areas.
violence against women and children has been a deplorable
part of life that we can no longer tolerate if we are to
consider ourselves a civilised nation. Several States-have
already taken steps to lessen the incidence of this crime,
and to assist the victims.
A three year campaign against domestic violence is now
underway. A Commonwealth/ State Task Force will work
together on this complex problem. One aspect will involve
making community and women's health workers more aware of
the threat such violence poses, and the ways it can be dealt
with. Rural women ~ who responded to the survey identified the need
for information as a significant issue for them.
We have responded-with the establishment of the Commonwealth
Services Information Program, through the Department of
Primary Industries and Energy, to provide information to
country people about the services and programs available
from the Federal Government.
Housing has emerged as another important concern for rural
women. For the aged, and for those on low incomes, particularly if
they are sole parents, access to suitable and affordable
accommodation can mean the difference between poverty and a
life with dignity.
The action plans on housing in the National Agenda for Women
will ensure that women are included in housing policy
formulation and when considering options for the development
of public housing.
Research is now being undertaken on housing needs in rural
areas. We will continue to support the work of the Women's
Housing' Issues Working Party, and to monitor and evaluate
the Commonwealth/ State Housing Agreement.
Through such programs as the Local Government and Community
Housing Program, we will encourage new forms of public
ownership through co-operatives and other types of community
managed housing.
A common theme which emerges from consultation with women
throughout Australia is the critical importance of access to
education and training in the achievement of full
participation by women in our economic and social life. 397

Since its election in 1983 this Government has made
expansion of educational opportunities a priority.
It was a national disgrace that when we came to office only
about one-third of our students were staying on at secondary
school to Year 12.
As a result of our policies, that proportion is now over one
half. By the early 1990s, we hope that two-thirds of our
students will be completing their schooling, opening the
door to a fuller and more satisfying adult life.
The expansion of the Technical and Further Education system
has provided improved access for thousands of Australians
living in rural areas. New campuses have been built, others
have been refurbished, and the range of courses has been
AS well, the National Policy for the Education of Girls is
encouraging recognition of the special needs of girls in
rural communities where the range of work and training is
restricted. In the area of child care, which has been a particular
priority of my Government, special funding has been made
available to family day care schemes serving large rural and
remote areas.
I don't think its necessary to list exhaustively every
initiative we are taking to respond to the needs rural women
have told us they feel.
I don't want to pretend that every problem has been solved
or indeed that every problem can be easily solved.
And I especially want to avoid the suggestion . that policies
which help rural women are somehow separate from the broader
policies we are pursuing for economic progress nation-wide.
Those broader policies have produced one million new jobs.
They are reducing inflation. They have allowed the
achievement of historic welfare reforms such as the Family
Allowance Supplement and the Child Support Scheme.
All Australians are better off for these achievementsincluding
rural women and their. families.
So in closing I thank you for the support and the
constructive criticism you have provided.
I am confident the CWA will continue, as it has in the past,
to alert the Government to needs that are current and
problems that await resolution.
Together we can continue the task of making a better and a
stronger Australia for our children.

Transcript 7359