RESTORING RESPECT FOR THE COMMUNITY SECTOR, SPEECH TO AUSTRALIAN SERVICES UNION MEMBERS, BLAXLAND, TUESDAY, 15 MARCH 2022
'The past three years have placed an extraordinary burden on our community, and you have all stepped up to provide an extraordinary level of support.
From providing shelter and assistance to those who lost their homes in the 2019 bushfires, help to the sick, isolated and vulnerable during the pandemic, and now dealing with the devastation of the floods.
The work that you and your organisations have done has been nothing short of amazing. And it is all the more impressive given that it came after years where the Coalition Government seemingly did everything in its power to destroy capability in the sector.'
ADDRESS TO THE ROYAL AUSTRALIAN AND NEW ZEALAND COLLEGE OF PSYCHIATRISTS 2022 CONFERENCE
SUNDAY, 6 MARCH 2022
Strengthening government services
Good afternoon delegates. I’m joining you from Gadigal land, and I pay my respect to elders past and present.
Delegates it"s my great privilege to move this chapter.
Today more than 100,000 women and men attended rallies in 36 different locations across the country. My mum was one of them. She attended a march in Lismore. My mum has been waiting for a long time. She sang along to Helen Reddy's anthem 'I am woman' in the 1970s. I won't say that I didn't tear up a little when I arrived at the march on the lawns here and heard that song being played.
One of the iconic images of Australia's bushfires is a firefighter sharing a water bottle with a scared and singed koala. That picture was shared around the world and, in part, that's because the koala is so intrinsically and recognisably Australian.
I'd like to start with a tale of two family law reforms. The first reform was promised by the government in their first Women's Economic Security Statement. I remind you that that was back in 2018. It's a relatively simple proposal, and it would make dividing super assets easier and fairer. It's supported by lawyers, by academics and by women's groups. The government promised, back in 2018, that they would have this reform up and running by July 2020—last year. Where do you think that reform's up to? Nowhere.
It is hard to imagine what would actually provoke this government to meaningfully respond to women's economic interests, in particular, the significance and importance of Australian women having access to the labour market and consequently developing their own economic and financial independence, because the true meaning of 'independence' is the ability to find your way out of circumstances not of your choosing, to make real choices in the knowledge you have the economic resources to support you.
From the Blue Mountains to the Southern Highlands and from Batemans Bay up to the Northern Rivers and Northern Tablelands, this bushfire season has been devastating for my home state of New South Wales, with 4.9 million hectares of land having been burnt.
Since taking on this portfolio I’ve tried to talk with as many community sector organisations as I can. More importantly, I’ve tried to visit them. I think that seeing and understanding the places where organisations do their work is an important part of understanding that work. You can sometimes learn a lot about the lived values of an organisation from the spaces they create – and it can change the conversation to sit in a room that just earlier that day was used to meet clients or host a playgroup.
I couldn’t be prouder than I am today - to be part of the Labor team. On Sunday Bill Shorten told us that from the very first day, a Labor government would strive to deliver equal pay. And today, Tanya and Brendan have announced very significant legal and institutional changes that will do just that.