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Tuesday, 27 February 2018
Page: 2153

Ms KATE ELLIS (Adelaide) (16:18): As we head towards International Women's Day, right around Australia and right around the world, our focus turns to remarkable women. I know that at the biggest breakfast that is held in Adelaide, with over a thousand women, we come together on International Women's Day and celebrate our—

A division having been called in the House of Representatives—

Sitting suspended from 16:19 to 16:38

Ms KATE ELLIS: As we look towards International Women's Day and our focus turns to remarkable women, we will listen to inspiring speakers, celebrate trailblazers and hold up our role models, as we should, but we should also look to other women that we should be focusing on. We should further their cause to serve as a reminder of the work that is yet to be done. I would bring to the Chamber's attention one group of women that I think we can learn much from and be inspired by. I reflect on a group of young women I met late last year on a visit to the St Joseph's Education Centre. This is a school in my electorate which has been set up specifically for young mothers who fell pregnant before being able to complete their year 12 studies.

Each year, the school holds a retreat, and speakers are invited to come and talk to the students, and I had the absolute privilege of being able to go and do just that. These young mums are doing it tough. When we talk about juggling acts, I can't think of many that are more difficult than, while potentially being a teenager yourself, needing to complete your high-school education, recognising what a priority that should be, and having a newborn baby or, in some cases, a number of children in your care. I was so incredibly inspired by these women. I heard their stories about how hard it is to make ends meet and I heard them talking about how it is all just a little bit too hard, but they were determined that the most important thing in their lives was to be a good mother to their children, and they knew that their chances of employment were greatly increased if they finished high school. So I pay tribute to the teachers and staff at St Joseph's Education Centre and to the volunteers who go and work there each and every day but particularly to those women who are working so hard to balance their education and being young mothers.

I'd also like to say that, this International Women's Day, we can recommit to trying to make it a little bit easier for these women and women like them right across Australia. There will be many debates about the number of women on boards, about gender pay gaps and about a range of different issues. But, for these women, it means that we as parliamentarians commit to essential social services and support, to a quality education system and to providing flexible workplaces.