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1988-89 budget has good news for women

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Senator Margaret Reynolds, the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on the Status of Women said today that the 1988-89 Budget is a significant step in the implementation of the Government's National Agenda for Women, and will be welcomed by the women of Australia.

"The Budget clearly confirms the Government's commitment to providing improved opportunities for women, and ensuring they are able to participate as they choose in society."

Senator Reynolds said that access to affordable quality child care was crucial for many women in enabling them to participate in education, training or the workforce, or have a break from young children at home.

"Child care places will be increased by 30,000 over the next four years, including the provision of an additional 2.000 occasional care places to benefit women at home. This represents an increase in the number of places from

46.000 when this Government came to power in 1983 to a projected total of 140,000. .

"The Budget provides for a significant expansion of higher education places and increases in rates of AUSTUDY and ABSTUDY for certain disadvantaged students aged 21 and over to bring it up to the equivalent unemployment rate.

"The Government wants to assist women on low incomes, particularly those who are reliant on pension or benefit, to be able to return to the workforce. The Jobs, Education, Training (JET) program to commence in March 1989 is a comprehensive strategy to help sole parents re-enter the workforce.

"The JET program will provide increased training opportunities, counselling on employment options and assistance in finding child care places. AUSTUDY allowances for sole parents will be doubled to $30 a week."

Senator Reynolds drew attention to a range of other initiatives for women on low incomes and their children.

"The Family Assistance Supplement which is paid directly to the mother will increase to $24 a week for a child under 13 years, and $31 a week for a child 13 years or over.



Rent assistance payments will be standardised across all pensions and benefits with increased assistance for low income families renting privately.

"The introduction· 'offstage 2 of the Child Support Scheme will improve the financial situation of many sole parents and their chil'dren who would otherwise have been reliant on pension"as"their-sole source of income. The formula for

payment of child support balances the needs of custodial and non-custodial parents, and their families.

Senator Reynolds drew attention to measures in the Budget of benefit to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, migrant women and the aged.

"In recognition of the special needs of Aboriginal' and Torres Strait Islander women $1.6 million has been targetted to the provision of improved health, housing and information services.

"All students undertaking English language courses will receive Austudy at the adult unemployment benefit rate. This will be of great assistance to migrant women who are often hindered in their capacity to enter the workforce by

lack of English language skills.

"Additional funds of $130 million will be provided over the next three years to ensure that the aged living in nursing homes and hostels do not pay more than 87.5 % of the standard single rate of pension in fees. This is

additional to funding increases of 70 per cent over the last five years."

Senator Reynolds said that women would continue to benefit from ongoing government programs. The Government is developing a national education campaign to raise awareness of the incidence of domestic violence in our community.

$1.6 million has been allocated over three years.

$2 million has been provided in 1988-89 for screening services for breast and cervical cancer.

"All the initiatives affecting women in the 1988-89 Budget are outlined in the Women's Budget Statement which has been tabled as part of the Budget papers tonight.

"I am confident that this year's Budget will be welcomed by women, and will bring us another step closer to giving women a say, a choice and a fair go as we approach the year 2000."

For further information: Rosemary Huxtable (Min) 062-777240 Karin Geiselhart (Dept) 062-715747