I know, I know, there’s a joke in there about vaginas being niches. I’ll wait while you chuckle.
Louise Chappell has a great piece in today’s Sydney Morning Herald: Coalition has won but women have lost:
Saturday was not just a bad day for NSW Labor. It was also a bad day for NSW women. If the results are as predicted, women now hold fewer positions in the lower house of the NSW Parliament than they have for 12 years, and for the first time in decades the number of women elected to the Legislative Assembly has gone backwards.
From 28 per cent of lower house seats, women look likely to drop to about 20 per cent, compared with 24 per cent federally.
This puts NSW on a par with countries such as Cambodia and Malawi.
Women make up just over 50 per cent of the population of the state and deserve to have their voices heard in Parliament in at least equal numbers with men.
Chappell writes that female politicians around the world have put issues like “maternity leave, equal pay, domestic violence protection, reproductive rights and childcare provisions” on the policy agenda. These issues are not just important for women. Anything to do with children is an issue for women AND men because women AND men have children and raise children. And domestic violence costs the Australian economy more than $13 billion a year. Does $13 billion sound like a niche concern to you?
On the NSW Liberal Party’s website they have policies for accountability and government reform, cost of living, disability services, economy, education, environmental sustainability, family and community, health, housing and planning, infrastructure, law and police, regional NSW, seniors, small business, trade and tourism, transport and roads. There is no policy for women.
Under their law and police plan, there is nothing about domestic violence. In 2007-2008, the NSW (Labor) Government spent around $351 million in agency costs as a result of domestic violence, yet the new State Government doesn’t seem to have a plan for it at all.
Under law and police policies, right at the very bottom, is this:
When you click on the Status of Women in NSW link, you end up in the family and community section. I wonder if this reflects a party view that women are just wives and mothers? Single women without children are invisible.
But this is all the new State Government has to say about issues affecting half the population:
A NSW Liberals & Nationals Government will shine the spotlight on women’s issues by:
1. Investing an additional $2.5 million to expand the Staying Home Leaving Violence program to an estimated five new sites. The program focuses on keeping women and children safe in their own homes and safe from reoffending by aggressors.
2. Creating the Bureau of Women’s Statistics (BOWS) within the Office for Women’s Policy that will retain statistics on a broad range of issues involving women including female employment, health, education and domestic violence and made available to the public.
3. Producing an annual report on the Status of Women in NSW using information from the Bureau of Women’s Statistics and reporting on the work undertaken by the Office for Women.
4. Ensuring all domestic violence related deaths are reviewed by the Domestic Violence Death Review Team in line with the Domestic Violence Homicide Advisory Panel’s 2009 report.
Woop-di-fucking-do. Seriously, is that all you’ve got? Sixteen years in opposition and you still don’t have a decent plan? The Staying Home Leaving Violence program has been around since 2004, so it’s not even theirs. And by “expanding” the program, they’re going to increase it from 16 sites to 21. Then there’s this, which makes me uncomfortable:
The removal of victims of domestic violence and children from the family home must become a measure of last, not first, resort.
I don’t know much of the research around homelessness and domestic violence, but it seems to me that making sure women who are being abused by their partners have somewhere safe to live should be the FIRST priority.
There is a link to download their Women’s Policy. It is only six pages. My uni’s code of practice for supervision of postgrad students is six pages but contains at least three times as much information as this pathetic “policy”.
The policy says the annual report on the status of women will cover women in leadership positions, the gender pay gap and the status of Indigenous women. Because, you know, this information is not already in the public domain. But yet they don’t have a single plan to address any of these issues.