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Thursday, 2 December 1976

Mr Garrick asked the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, upon notice:

(   1 ) With reference to the survey carried out by the International Labour Organisation, as reported on 8 August 1976 in the Sydney Morning Herald, do the figures regarding unemployment for women reflect the Australian situation.

(2)   Are women the first fired and last hired in times of economic recession.

(3)   Is the percentage of unemployed women in excess of 40 per cent while the proportion of women in the work force is only 35 per cent.

(4)   Does the Government have any plan to combat the problems which women have with regard to unemployment in times of economic slump.

Mr Street - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   In August 1976 the International Labour Office in Geneva issued a Press Statement based on data collected by the ILO Bureau of Statistics from 18 Western European countries, the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. The Australian statistics used by the ILO Bureau of Statistics were supplied by the Australian Statistician.

According to this Press Statement, which was duly reported in the Australian Press, the data, while not necessarily comparable from one country to another, showed that in the countries covered, unemployed women workers represented more than 40 per cent of total unemployment, while women made up only 35 per cent of their labour force.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimated that in August 1976, there were 118000 females unemployed in Australia, representing 44.7 per cent of the estimated total unemployed at that date. The Bureau's classification of unemployed persons, which conforms closely to the labour force classification recommended by the Eighth International Conference of Labour Statisticians, 1954, includes those looking for part-time work, as well as those looking for full-time work. The August 1976 estimate of 118 000 females unemployed in Australia comprised 84 900 females looking for full-time work, and 33 100 females looking for part-time work.

In August 1976, the Australian Bureau of Statistics also estimated that there were 2 098 200 females in the work force, representing 34.9 per cent ofthe estimated total work force.

The latest available statistics on unemployment in Australia are those of persons registered as unemployed with the Commonwealth Employment Service (CES). These statistics show that at the end of October 1 976 there were 86 064 females registered with the CES, representing 32.9 per cent of the total number of persons registered as unemployed with the CES. However, the number of persons registered as unemployed with the CES does not include those seeking part-time employment.

(2)   While there are no data available to provide a definitive answer, it is reasonable to assume that in the engagement and dismissal of staff, a major consideration for employers would be the requirements of each job and the qualifications and ability of persons to fulfil such requirements. Further, in general, unions prefer to have the last on, first off principle applied in cases where retrenchment is necessary.

(   3) See answer to (1).

(4)   The Government has recently introduced programs to combat problems associated with unemployment among the groups which are most affected. These are junior females and junior males, who are experiencing particular difficulty in finding employment.

Accordingly, the Special Youth Employment Training Program which Mr Howard announced on 22 September 1976, as extended along the lines I announced on 21 November 1976, and the Community Youth Support Scheme which I announced on 2 1 October 1976, have been initiated with the objectives of increasing employment and training opportunities for young people.

The first of these programs directly assists young people aged 15-19 years who have been away from full-time education for at least 6 months in the last 12 months, who are registered with the Commonwealth Employment Service and who have been registered with the CES for at least 6 of the previous 12 months. During the first six weeks of operation some 2300 young people have been placed under the program and it is estimated that almost 50 per cent of these were females. The program is administered within the overall NEAT context which itself is already assisting many women with training. At the end of October 1976 in the order of 5000 women, including those placed under the Special Youth Employment Training Program, were receiving assistance under NEAT.

The Community Youth Support Scheme, operative from 1 November 1976, aims to encourage community action toward the provision of supportive programs and services to the young unemployed, both girls and boys. Financial assistance is available toward the provision of a range of programs which would help to keep unemployed youth oriented to work, and improve their ability to apply for jobs and find employment.

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