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National Council of Women of Tasmania

24 May 2016
Rosalie Woodruff MP

Tuesday 24 May 2016

[6.22 p.m.]

Ms WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Madam Speaker, I rise to draw the attention of the House to the ongoing work of the National Council of Women of Tasmania.  The National Council of Women of Tasmania celebrated its 117th annual report for its 118th year this year.  It was a very moving meeting in considering the number of women over the last century or more who have been involved with goodwill in working for the women and children of Tasmania and are continuing to do so. 

The report of the President this year, Linley Grant OA, was very passionate and spoke of an enduring commitment, despite the changing circumstances, to continue to work with other women in, as she says, an act of courage and determination when there are so many factors working against that group because of the changed circumstances of women.  Nonetheless, they continue with the energy that the women who established the National Council of Women of Tasmania put into that group in 1899.  They continue on with that energy to work in a range of activities towards bettering the situation for all women and children in Tasmania.

They have a motto which they operate by.  It is an international motto from the International Council of Women.  The golden rule, they call it.  Linley described it as 'Do as you would be done by' but the original golden rule as written in 1899 shows how much language has changed.  The original golden rule was, 'Do unto others as you would they should do unto you'.

Mr Llewellyn - Very biblical, too.

Ms WOODRUFF - It is.  There is a lot of history which emanates from this group and I want to read into the House the names of the women who have served on the committee this year:  Linley Grant, Tie Rambus, Fran Swidden, Mary Excel, Sally Mushin, Maggi Storrs, Dorothy Kelly, Eileen Harrison, and Eris Smyth as an adviser.

The role of the Council of Women has changed because of the changing nature of women in society.  In 1899, women were predominantly working in domestic situations; women now comprise 46 per cent of all employees in Australia.  They are 70 per cent of all part-time employees, and 36 per cent are full-time employees. 

All in all, 60 per cent of all women in society today work and 71 per cent of men do.  It is worth noting that women still comprise the greatest proportion of carers in society.  The ABS data of last year reveal that 28 per cent of women are choosing not to work because they are caring for children, compared to 3 per cent of men.  12 per cent of women do not work because of the ill health of someone else.  In other words, they are caring for a person, compared to 5 per cent of men. 

Women still spend nearly twice as long as men - on average as a group, in addition to full-time or part-time work - on activities associated with unpaid work every day.  This includes an extra one-and-a-half hours a day on domestic work in addition to what men contribute, and an extra 40 minutes on looking after children in addition to what men contribute.

The National Council of Women of Tasmania has found it increasingly difficult over the years and Linley Grant described this year as a turning point where they had to make a decision whether to continue but they have decided to press on.  The work they do is substantial and wide.  For example, they are concerned with a range of activities in relation to harm of children.  They made submissions in relation to alcohol harm reduction.  They advocated bringing back subsidies for special low protein food for children with phenylketonuria. 

They made submissions and comments in relation to medicinal cannabis, and in relation to keeping Tasmania free of genetically modified organisms.  They also made a submission about the supertrawler, the Geelong Star, in relation to their concerns about over-large fish quotas and offences in trawling operations in Tasmanian fisheries.  They have been involved in commenting on global warming to the International Council of Women and looking at the loss of Federal Police at the Hobart airport.  Recently, they have been involved in providing comment to the Healthy Tasmania five-year strategic plan.

This snapshot of their work in the past year indicates a breadth of concern for issues to do with women and children.  They are committed to keeping this work going for the next year and to continuing to engage in a very passionate way with the activities in Tasmania.