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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 8253

SPEECH BY THE PRIME MINISTER COMMONWEALTH/ STATE MINISTERS CONFERENCE ON THE STATUS OF WOMEN CANBERRA - 14 FEBRUARY 1991

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: 14/02/1991

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 8253

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CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY EfrIARGQED IM11LELIVERY
SPEECH BY THE PRIME MINISTER
COMMONWEALTH/ STATE MINISTERS' CONFERENCE
ON THE STATUS OF WOMEN
CANBERRA 14 FEBRUARY 1991
This inaugural meeting of the Comonwealth/ State Ministers'
Conference on the Status of Women marks the beginning of an
important new phase in improving the status of women in
Australia. By opening the channels for formal Ministerial consultation
on status of women issues, this forum will help us towards
our shared goal of raising the status of Australian women
quickly and efficiently.
I announced the establishment of this Forum in March last
year, to allow better sharing of information among
governments ard better co-ordination of policies.
Australian women have come a long way since 1902, when they
won the right to vote in Federal elections.
But the past 20 years have seen particularly dramatic steps
forward.
Women's participation in the workforce has increased from
per cent in 19,72 to 52 per cent in 1990.
The retention rate of girls to Year 12 has risen from 36 per
cent in 1972 to 70 per cent in 1990.
In comparison to other OECD countries, Australia has the
lowest wage differential that is, the difference between
female and male earnings.
And inextricably linked to these improvements has been the
rapid growth in the provision of child care affordable
child care to enable women to wock, trai. n or study and
improve their financial. independence.
Since 1983 the supply of Commonwealth funded child care
places has nore than doubled by 77,500 places to 123,500. I f; 2

Last March I announced plans t~ o iuncrease the provision of
child care by extending fee relief to commercial and
employer centres to stimulate an increase of about 28,000
new places in these sectors. 1 also announced the planned
estiablishment of 50,000 new community places over the next
fivia years. These developments mean that by 1996, there
shouild be over 250, U000 chil. d care places in Australia.
I am confident that there will be continuing close
collaboration between our governments to implement th~ s
expa~ nsion because all governments have recognised the trend
of growing workforce participation by women and have
cooperated to increase the supply of child care where it is
needed most.
The National Agenda for Women is a prime mechanism for
ensuring that the great surge forward in social and economic
reform for women maintains its momentum.
Australia leads the world with thle National Agenda. We were
the first Government to have developed a comprehensive
policy document based onl the Uni ted Nation'sa Forward L~ ooking
Strategies for Womeit.
More than two years of negotiation and consultation with
somis 25,000 women underpin the National Agenda.
Our reputation in this field is internationally
unchallenged. Our voice is influential.
The 1990s bring an unprecedented opportunity for developing
ac. Loser partnership between our Governments.
The goals are to improve our national efficiency and
intarnational competitiveness, and to improve the delivery
and quality of the services governments provide.
On status of women issues, we can be proud of the level of
consultation and coordination by Commonwealth and State
governments. With Queensland's recent establishment of government
machinery, there is for the first time a specific Minister
in each State and Territory responsible for status of women
issues. I am sure today's Conference and your work in the future
will1 consolidate that structure and enhance the
opportunities for progress to be made in the future.
Today, your discussions will link in with the process and
outcomes of the Special Premiers' Conference on
Intergovernmental Relations.
Your consideration of the paper, ' Women's Interests in the
Commonwealth/ State Relations Review' will give this
ConfEerence an important role in that process.
1 4

Also of significance today will be your consideration of the
Ottawa Communique from the Third meeting of Commonwealth
Ministers Responsible for Women's Affairs.
This meeting, last October, reached unanimous agreement on
strategies for improving the status of women, specifically
in regard to Economic equality, structural adjustment and
eliminating violence against women.
Finally, I would welcome your consideration of the draft
Declaration on Women and Structural Adjustment. I will be
seeking support for this Declaration at the Commonwealth
Heads of Government meeting later in the year, and I believe
that support will be forthcoming.
So you have a full. agenda before you.
I commend the spirit of co-operation which is evident
already and I wish you a successful inauigural meeting.
I will n~ ow hand you over to the Minister Assisting me on the
Status of Women, Wendy Fatin, who will be chairing your
discussion.

Transcript 8253