New Women’s Caucus to tackle issues

Deputy Chief Minister and Minister for Women will convene an inaugural Women’s Caucus within the ACT Government to tackle important issues facing women and girls across the Territory.

Women and girls have a better chance at equal opportunities and fewer barriers to participation in society when women are included in senior decision-making and leadership positions.

With a record number of women joining the Tenth ACT Legislative Assembly, and with more women than men now making up the ACT Government, I have decided to establish a formal caucus and invited my women colleagues across ACT Labor and the ACT Greens to join this forum.

The ACT Government Women’s Caucus will provide an opportunity for women with diverse backgrounds and expertise to come together and share opportunities to advance our goal of full participation of women and girls in all aspects of society.

The key task of the Caucus will be to support the government’s implementation of actions set out in the Second Action Plan under the ACT Women’s Plan 2016-2026.

The Second Action Plan is about working together to achieve equity for those in our community who identify as women and girls under five key actions:

  1. Improving the mental health and wellbeing of women and girls in the ACT
  2. Fostering gender equity in Canberra workplaces, including through improved gender equality in leadership and workplace participation
  3. Building a community where women and girls are safe and supported to participate
  4. Improving housing support and sustainability and reducing homelessness for women
  5. Developing appropriate and accessible services, programs and policies for women and girls, ensuring consideration of those from diverse backgrounds.

I am particularly focused on protecting and improving economic outcomes for women through supporting workforce participation, making progress towards equal pay, providing more opportunities for women to undertake non-traditional roles, and better recognising the value of domestic labour.

Equally, safety and wellbeing of women and girls is an important priority the caucus will give special attention.

I will seek the support of my women colleagues to prioritise this through, for example, the governments continuing efforts to prevent domestic and family violence and address the prevalence of sexual assault in our community.

While this caucus will be for Labor and Greens MLAs I welcome the opportunity to meet with Liberal women MLAs to promote open dialogue about further progressing gender equality in the ACT.

COVID-19 has had a significant impact on women and has further highlighted areas of inequality. Women have more frequently taken on additional caring responsibilities. Women are also more likely to be employed in occupations that are insecure and low paid.

With this in mind I have asked the Office for Women to begin a gendered analysis of the economic impacts of the pandemic on the community.

Real cultural change requires us to work together as a government and as a community. I look forward to working with my women colleagues through the ACT Government Women’s Caucus on making progress for women and girls.

“Canberrans have voted for a female majority parliament and it is important that the government ensures that appropriate attention is given to the advancement of women’s rights in the ACT.

“The Women’s Caucus is an important initiative, and I look forward to their contribution to the government’s agenda,” said Chief Minister Andrew Barr.

*Statement attributable to Deputy Chief Minister and Minister for Women Yvette Berry*

/Public Release. View in full here.