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Monday, 30 March 1987
Page: 1442

Senator CROWLEY —My question is directed to the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on the Status of Women. I refer the Minister to the Prime Minister's announcement of the National Agenda for Women in November 1985 and his reference in that announcement to the considerable contribution to the national well-being made by women in the home. Has the National Agenda consultation indicated continuing interest in and importance of, for and by women in the home? In light of recent comments by the Opposition regarding the proper place of women in our society, can the Minister say what steps the Government has taken to ensure that women's unpaid work in the home is not undervalued by the community?

Senator RYAN —It certainly was the case that, in all of the consultations with women throughout Australia on the National Agenda which I attended or of which I had reports, the manner of the contribution to the nation's good by women by their work in the home was raised. I think it is also true to say that there is a widespread view amongst women that the work that they contribute in the home to the well-being not only of their own families but also of the community in general is not widely recognised or valued adequately. In response to this very widespread concern that was expressed to the Government, it has decided to measure the value of women's unpaid work. In the first instance, this measuring will take the form of a pilot survey which will collect information from women and men aged 15 years and over from 750 households in Sydney.

The objectives of the survey, which is a first for Australia, are to identify the value of voluntary and domestic work, activity patterns of the unemployed, the reasons for unpaid work, the relationship between voluntary work and success in the job market, and the extent and value of work which would otherwise be funded by the Government. The outcome of the survey will be to determine the impact of voluntary and unpaid work on the gross domestic product, the indication of hidden unemployment, and data on the division of responsibilities within the home. This is a first step in the establishing of the feasibility of a national time use survey, so this is a pilot program. If it produces--

Opposition senators interjecting--


Senator RYAN —Mr President, it is very interesting that you have had to call for order at a time when I am answering a question in which many senators in this place would claim to be interested, but obviously they are not interested when the Government tries to take steps properly to measure the--

Senator Chaney —You are answering with rhetoric. Give us some facts.

Senator RYAN —Senator Chaney says: `Give us some facts'. There are no facts. I am saying that the Government is taking the first step, by way of a feasibility pilot program, to establish those facts. The information will include demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of each member of the household and their daily activity patterns. It is a first step in establishing the feasibility of a national time use survey. As such, I have no doubt that the initiative will be welcomed widely by women throughout Australia who, while we do not know the precise facts about their circumstances, undoubtedly, in the view of our Government, make an enormous contribution to the community's well-being.