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Government response to Lavarch reaffirms commitment to women

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The Federal Government. has supported the vast majority of the 79 recommendations of Half Way to Equal -the ?arliamentary report on women's progress towards equality in Aus:.ralia.

The Government response to the Lavarch Committee report was presented to Parlia ment today by the Prime Minister and his Minister Assisting for the Status of Women, Wendy Fatin.

The wide-ranging report attr acted more than ·600 written and 180 oral submissions.

"Many of the report's recommendations have already been acted on since it was released in April this year,• Ms Fatin said.

"Landmark legislative changes to the Sex Discrimination Act and Affirm�e Action Act announced by the Prime Minister in Septerr�er have passed through Parlia ment, and others are under consideration.

"All but a handful of the remaining 58 recommendations in areas as diverse as women in the unpaid workforce, women ·and sport and education and training have won Government support in today's response.•

They include:

A major survey by the Department of Education, Employment and Training of the value and extent of women's voluntary work and the skills involved (Recorruneri.iation 6);

A review by Government departments of their research and development programs as they apply to women (Recomm endation 7); "

Five-yearly surveys by the Australian Bureau of Statistics of the extent and value of unpaid domestic and voluntary work (Recommendation 44);

The expansion of the Rural Access Program to inc lude specific programs for women. This has already been acted on with RAP funding increasing to $5.4m in the last Budget, more than $0.5 million of which was allocated speci fically for women's projects.

The response also supports plans to include voluntary work in the National Accounts, the consideration of legislative protection for parental leave, and better industrial protection of ho�e-based workers.

MAustralia is considered a world leader in raising the status of ·wornen,w Ms Fatin said. #There's still a long way to go, but we are continuing to make progress towards real equality.

MSince the Lavarch report was released in April, the Industrial Relations Act has been amended to ensure that women are not disadvantaged under workpl ace bargaining.

MThe sexual harassment provisions of the Sex Discrimination Act have been strengthened , dismissal on the grounds of family responsibilities has been prohibited and orders under the SDA made enforceable in the Federal Court.*

Other recommendations supported by the.Government deal with media coverage of women 1s sports, gender equity in the Training Guarantee Act and expansion of child care services to take account of women and chi ldren with disabilities.


Many issues raised in the Report will also be addressed in the New National Agenda for Women, the Government's blueprin t for women towards the year 2000, to be released in early 1993.

Copies of the Government Response to Half Way to Equal are available from Australian Government Publishing Service bookshops.

CANBERRA December 17, 1992