Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Women’s conference: giving Australian women a voice

Women from all over Australia will be debating what they see as the key issues affecting women in Australia at a three-day national conference opened in Canberra today.

The Minister for Family and Community Services and the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women’s Issues, Senator Kay Patterson, today officially opened the National Council of Women of Australia Mid-Term Conference.

“The conference is a great opportunity for all women, from a diverse range of backgrounds, to address issues which affect women in all communities,” Senator Patterson said.

“Fifty-nine delegates from Women’s Councils from all over Australia will attend the conference to discuss issues that will help inform government policy-making.

“The Howard Government’s sound economic management has provided more choice and opportunity for women through low unemployment, strong wages growth and low interest rates.

“In fact, February Average Weekly Earnings (AWE) figures released this week by the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that real incomes for women have increased faster than real incomes for men. Over 1.6 million jobs have been created since 1996 and unemployment for women has fallen from 7.6% to 5.5%.

“The 2005-06 Budget recognises the continuing challenges faced by contemporary women and the measures respond to the many roles women fulfill as they move through life. The measures include:

  • A record $75.7 million over four years for the Women’s Safety Agenda, to work towards the elimination of domestic violence and sexual assault;
  • $15 million over four years for the Women’s Leadership and Development Programme;
  • An increase of over 84,300 Outside School Hours Care places, 2,500 Family Day Care places and 1,000 In-Home Care places to meet projected unmet demand over the next four years; and
  • Funding for women’s health initiatives include research into the early detection of breast cancer; better access to Pap tests for women in regional and rural areas; assistance in reducing maternal smoking rates; and additional assistance for Indigenous mothers and their children.

“As part of the Howard Government’s commitment to women, a further
$2.4 million in funding over four years will be allocated to the National Secretariats to ensure the voice of women continues to be heard.

“The National Council of Women of Australia is a member of the Australian Women’s Coalition, one of four National Women’s Secretariats funded under the Howard Government’s Women’s Development Program.

“I am delighted to be opening a conference which will contribute to improving the status of women across Australia by addressing a variety of issues that affect women,” Senator Patterson said.