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Thursday, 13 September 1984
Page: 961

Senator GILES —Has the attention of the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on the Status of Women been drawn to the survey of Australian women by advertising agent, John Clemenger, and is she surprised by his conclusion that the ' unhappiest women in Australia' are mothers at home with young children? Is this not a matter for serious community concern? What measures can be taken by the Government to assist these women to find life more rewarding and stimulating?

Senator RYAN —I do not think anyone on this side of the chamber, or probably anybody in this chamber, would have been surprised by the findings of the Clemenger survey. It is a matter of interest that for over a decade now women in Australia, through their various organisations, have been drawing to the attention of government the fact that society has changed and women generally want to participate fully in community life and in the work force for long periods of their lives. When they are obstructed from doing this, because of lack of child care services or adequate training or through prejudice and discrimination in the work force or in training and education institutions, they become very frustrated and unhappy. It was out of a recognition of these changes and the difficulties faced by young mothers in particular that the Australian Labor Party many years ago started to formulate its equal opportunity policies, including extensive policies for gaining equal opportunity in education, training and in the work force.

The Clemenger survey, while it is still valid, does not tell us anything new, but it does demonstrate that the Labor Government is very much on the right track in the policies it has been pursuing to improve opportunities for women. We have been pursuing those policies very assiduously during our 16 months in government. I think the community will generally endorse the steps we have taken , particularly in areas such as the Sex Discrimination Act, the pilot program for affirmative action in private employment, the equal opportunity legislation which will give women better opportunities in the Commonwealth Public Service and, of course, in our greatly enhanced commitment to programs such as child care, special subsidies for employers to train women, particularly as apprentices, and so on. It is quite clear that Australian women want to participate beyond the domestic sphere and become frustrated and unhappy when they cannot do that. I believe those women, who were the subject of the Clemenger survey to which Senator Giles referred in her question, have something to look forward to because of the very wide range of education, training, apprenticeship, child care and equal opportunity policies which this Government has implemented.