Media Release by Senator the Hon Ursula Stephens

Senator Stephens celebrates women in the not-for-profit sector

Senator Ursula Stephens, today addressed the Third Sector Women’s Networking Lunch in Melbourne, to highlight the important role women play in the Third Sector (not-for-profit sector).

Attended by around 250 representatives from across the sector, Senator Stephens said the lunch was an opportunity to recognise women’s achievements and build valuable organisational networks.

“Women have been sustaining the sector in Australia since very early times,” Senator Stephens said.

“From Caroline Chisholm to Joan Kirner, women have always taken the lead in working for stronger, fairer communities in Australia.

“Today’s third sector is characterised by passionate women leaders like Clare Martin CEO of ACOSS, Dawn O’Neil CEO of Lifeline, Elaine Henry CEO of the Smith Family and this year’s Australian Local Hero, OzHarvest founder Ronni Khan.

“This lunch is an opportunity to acknowledge their contributions and celebrate our successes.”

Senator Stephens said today’s meeting was also an opportunity to discuss the challenges faced by women in the sector.

“Women still face discrimination, even when working in not-for-profit organisations, and continue to be underpaid when compared with their male counterparts.

“The government is undertaking a large program of work to close the gap on pay inequity and other forms of discrimination in the workplace,” Senator Stephens said.

Senator Stephens noted, however, that achieving equality for women in the workplace requires everyone’s efforts, and encouraged third sector women to work together to support each other and make their voices heard.

All proceeds from the lunch will be donated to the International Women’s Development Agency, an Australian women’s non-government organisation which provides services to improve the performance of not-for-profit organisations.