International Women’s Day celebrates progress towards gender equality and allows us to focus on the work still to be done to fully value the contribution of women to all areas of Australian life.
The Australian Government is determined to make real progress in advancing the status of women and providing supports so women can make the choices that are right for them.
Since being elected, the Government has taken practical action to help women juggle competing pressures on their time, particularly work and family.
This includes returning fairness and flexibility to Australian workplaces including for the first time a right for parents to request flexible and part time work. The Government has made it easier for women to afford to return to work by increasing the Child Care Rebate to 50 per cent of out of pocket expenses and making payments quarterly.
For the first time a Paid Parental Leave Scheme will commence in 2011 that will allow women to remain connected to the workforce while easing financial burdens so they can choose to spend more time with their new baby. The Government’s scheme is a fully funded Scheme that particularly supports the financial security of low income women.
The Government is working with business to improve women’s opportunities in employment. Today, the Treasurer and the Minister for the Status of Women awarded Employer of Choice citations to 95 businesses able to demonstrate that they have gone over and above minimum requirements to support women’s career achievement.
The Government has taken a zero tolerance approach to violence against women, committing funds for urgent actions to prevent violence and support victims. The Government is also on track to releasing our National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women this year.
While Australians should be proud of our nation’s record in advancing gender equity, there is further work to be done.
The Prime Minister and the Minister for the Status of Women marked International Women’s Day by attending the UNIFEM annual International Women’s Day breakfast in Sydney last Friday