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Monday, 2 March 2015
Page: 1748


Mr WYATT (Hasluck) (11:25): I stand today to support the honourable member for Newcastle's motion on International Women's Day, which falls on 8 March—Sunday of this week. I also support statements made by the Hon Julie Bishop:

The empowerment of women and girls is one of the most effective ways to achieve higher economic growth and better living standards among the millions of people in developing countries in our region.

This includes Australia:

On International Women's Day we should take the opportunity to reflect on women's achievements and the challenges they continue to face.

In Western Australia, the first International Women's Day gathering was a public meeting held on 8 March 1938 at the Perth Town Hall. The topic was 'International women of note: their contribution to present day problems.'

The speakers included Dr Roberta Jull, who was the first woman to establish a medical practice in Perth, and Mollie Kingston, who established the first all-women law firm in Western Australia.

In the 77 years since 1938, International Women's Day has been celebrated each year in Western Australia in one form or another. Over the decades, different types of events and different themes have reflected the shifting priorities of the women in our changing world. In 2015, the theme for International Women's Day is 'Standing together for change'.

Today, I am standing together as an equal with the women in my electorate of Hasluck, so I will introduce them to you statistically. In Hasluck, just over 75,000 women completed the census in 2011, making up 50.2 per cent of the population. Of those women, Aboriginal women represented 2.7 per cent. It is interesting to note that 31.3 per cent of women in Hasluck were born overseas. The top five countries of birth for women born overseas were the United Kingdom, New Zealand, India, the Philippines and Malaysia—all very different and diverse. Eighty-one per cent of women spoke only English at home. Fifty per cent of women who are 15 or older are in the labour force, compared to 67 per cent of men. Twenty nine per cent of women in my electorate are undertaking education from pre-primary and primary to tertiary.

I stand together with the women of Hasluck for increased education and labour force participation. Equally, I stand together with the female members of this parliament whose state of origin is Western Australia: foreign minister, the Hon. Julie Bishop; the Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection and the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women, Senator Michaelia Cash; and coalition whip, the Hon. Nola Marino. All of them have taken strong stances on the need to consider where women have key and significant roles, and ensure they are in the same equal vein of consideration as we give in a disproportionate manner to men. Women represented 49.7 per cent of the total population in WA at the date of the last census in 2011, but they are not 49 per cent of its parliamentarians. I stand together with women in this parliament for higher representation, and to improve the plight of women all around the world.

Last year I became an ambassador for White Ribbon, which is the male-led campaign to end men's violence against women. In Australia, family violence is the principle cause of homelessness for women and their children. I swore the White Ribbon oath on 25 November 2014: never to commit, excuse or remain silent about violence against women. I stand together with the 159,000 Australians who have already sworn the same oath. What is important is that in the discussions around our tables, the boardrooms, the places where we work or in any site that we live in or share within this community of ours, that we develop the capacity of our society to grow the opportunity to focus on women being equals in all aspects of all things that we do, both in economic advancement and in their opportunities—they should never be negated. Things also need to happen at the dinner table, where a daughter is equal to a son, where a father or a husband is equal to his wife, and where our attitude and our words do not distinguish between either.

The message is simple. We are equal and we are together. I am proud to contribute to this debate today, and I am proud to be standing with my fellow parliamentarians for change ahead of International Women's Day on Sunday. I commend this motion to the House.

Debate adjourned.