Media Release by The Hon Julie Collins MP

Every Girl’s International Day of the Girl Child

The Minister for the Status of Women, Julie Collins, has today congratulated the organisations behind the inaugural International Day of the Girl Child and the events to mark the day at Parliament House in Canberra.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard last night officially launched the International Day of the Girl Child at a reception coordinated by Plan International and Australian Council for International Development at Parliament House.

Today, Ms Collins and other parliamentarians met with a group of girls taking part in the YWCA’s Every Girl program.

“I look forward to the International Day of the Girl Child growing in importance around the world to raise awareness about the hardships millions of girls face every day,” Ms Collins said.

“Girls are still being denied an education simply because they are girls, forced into early marriages and exposed to violence in their homes and communities.

“We need to spread the message that girls are capable of achieving anything and that supporting them to fulfil their potential will also benefit their families and communities.”

The girls who visited Parliament House are participating in the YWCA’s Every Girl program, which works with 8 to 14 year old girls to improve their self-esteem and build their leadership abilities.

“I was pleased to announce in June that the Government would provide $150,000 to the YWCA to extend Every Girl to 10 communities across the country,” Ms Collins said.

Ms Collins also said it was important for girls and all young people, to develop positive relationships.

The Australian Government is encouraging respectful relationships between young people, as part of the $86 million National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children.

Since 2009, through the National Plan, the Australian Government has invested $9.1 million in 32 projects to help equip young people with the skills to engage in respectful relationships.

The Government is also working with the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority to include respectful relationships education in phase 3 of the National Curriculum.

Under the National Plan, the Australian Government has also invested $17 million in The Line campaign, which uses social media to raise awareness among young people aged 12 to 20 about respectful relationships and appropriate behaviour.

“This campaign is having a positive impact on young people who tend to rely heavily on advice from their peers about what is right and wrong,” Ms Collins said.