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Sex Discrimination commissioner agrees with affirmative action findings

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NEW S RELEASE Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission

22nd October 1998


Susan Hailiday, the federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner, today welcomed the release of the Affirmative Action Agency's Annual Report.

"‘The report highlights the valuable and necessary work done b> the Affirmative Action Agency”, says Commissioner Hailiday, noting “the reports findings on women’s equal employment opportunities show women continue to be disadvantaged in the workforce.”

’’This report is a timely wake up call to a number of sectors of business and industry”, she says.

Commissioner Hailiday shares Affirmative Action Agency Director Ms Harris’s concern that equal employment opportunities in recent years are no longer showing the same signs of improvement.

“The continuing increase of women are w'orking part-time is a challenge to employers to ensure part­ time workers are not disadvantaged relative to full time workers. Particularly disturbing are statistics showing that although women are now as highly if not better educated than men, industries in which women are concentrated appear to have limited career paths. Australia now has one of the highest rates of occupational segregation amongst OECD countries.”

‘‘To ensure their enterprise is competitive employers should draw on the skills and expertise of the whole workforce, in its entirety", said Commissioner Hailiday'.

“Employers' failure to make greater advances towards family friendly workplaces impacts negatively on both men and women. While 40% of employed men and women have dependent children, only one in ten enterprise agreements have family friendly measures."

The reports reference to work and family issues supports Commissioner Hailiday’s own findings in relation to workplace pregnancy. Commissioner Hailiday says “some organisations, particularly small business, appear to be either confused or unaware of their responsibilities when it comes to pregnant and potentially pregnant workers"’.

For further information please contact: Erin Broderick on 02 9284 9880 or 0419 258 597

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