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Lawrence pinches Lavarch's key adviser

The Government's commitment to the enhancement of the status of Australian women was cemented today with the announcement of the appointment of a new head for its' central think-tank on women.

Kathleen Townsend, who has been working as a Consultant on Human Rights to Federal Attorney General Michael Lavarch, has replaced Ann Sherry in the top job as the head of the Office of the Status of Women.

Federal Minister for Health and Minster Assisting the Prime Minister for the Status of Women, Dr Carmen Lawrence, has welcomed the appointment.

"Ms Townsend brings a depth of experience and understanding of the diverse issues which affect women, having worked as a school teacher, an Australian Volunteer Abroad, an outreach worker with community organisations and small business, as well advising the

government on the development and marketing of social policy.

I am confident that her skills and experience, as well as her optimism, energy and enthusiasm will ensure women's concerns are kept at the top of the Government's agenda."

Ms Townsend played a crucial role putting together the Half-Way to Equal Report, the far-reaching inquiry which documented women's inequality. Much of that Report has become a blue-print for the Government's policy on women.

"I consider it a privilege to have been able to listen to Australian women have their say and make recommendations for change" Ms Townsend said.

"I am looking forward to the challenges of this new position. There are many key issues which need to be addressed, lack of recognition of women's contribution, economic security and child care are only a few.

As a woman whose experiences have ranged from play groups to Parliament, I reckon I've run the gamut."

"I am looking forward to working with her. I believe she has a lot to offer" Dr Lawrence said.

Contact: Brenda Conroy 015 414 781

Kathy Townsend 018 622 746.