Gender equality benefits both men and women, and society as a whole, resulting in positive economic and social outcomes.
The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Government has made a significant investment in addressing family violence. Action is now needed to address gender inequality which is inextricably linked with family violence.
YWCA Canberra works every day to progress gender equality in the ACT. We provide education and training opportunities for women through our She Leads Diploma of Management, workshops and Conferences, support innovative ideas and projects through our Great Ydeas Grants Program, actively engage women through our Board Traineeship Program, and maintain a 30 per cent quota for women under 30 on our Board.
The evidence is clear on the actions needed to address gender inequality. The ACT needs a Gender Equality Act, increased resourcing for the Office for Women, the introduction of blind recruitment practices in the ACT Public Service, and for the development of all policy to be done with gender equality at the forefront of decision making.
The best start in life: Early childhood education and care
There is a significant body of research demonstrating that early childhood education and care (ECEC) has a positive and lasting impact on a child’s social, emotional, educational and economic wellbeing across the lifespan.
Significant reforms have been made to ECEC in Australia over the past decade including the introduction of the National Quality Framework for ECEC, and the National Partnership for Universal Access to Early Childhood Education. However, Australia still lags behind the rest of the world in the provision of quality ECEC.
YWCA Canberra plays a significant and important role in the provision of ECEC in Canberra. We operate three early learning education centres, are one of the largest providers of family daycare in Australia, and provide national accredited training to educators. This demonstrates our commitment to and knowledge of ECEC.
Quality ECEC should be a priority for the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Government to ensure that children are given the best start in life. Urgent action is needed from both the ACT and Australian Government to extend and improve ECEC, particularly for children experiencing disadvantage.
Essential to wellbeing: Safe and affordable housing for women
Appropriate, affordable and stable housing is essential to the wellbeing of both individuals and the community.
There are high levels of unmet need for housing to address homelessness in the ACT. For women there are added housing pressures. Domestic violence is the number one cause of homelessness among women and children. Single older women also comprise a rapidly growing cohort facing housing insecurity and the risk of homelessness.
YWCA Canberra is actively engaged in the provision of housing support to Canberrans through our Housing Support Unit, affordable housing properties, and Supportive Tenancy Services.
Action to improve access to and availability of housing and homelessness services for women is desperately needed, particularly those escaping domestic violence and older women.
Youth educational disengagement, underemployment, and unemployment are a cost to the ACT community, both socially and economically.
The discontinuation of the nationally funded Youth Connections service at the end of 2014 has left a major gap in assisting young people to re-engage with education, training or employment. There is also a lack of community-based therapeutic counselling models for young people and their families, which contributes to at-risk young people falling through the cracks.
YWCA Canberra supports young people and their families in Canberra through a range of programs. We deliver the Circles of Support counselling program, operate the Mura Lanyon Youth Community Centre and YWCA Canberra Clubhouse, and support young people in Tuggeranong through a range of targeted outreach programs.
Resources are needed for community-based counselling services for at-risk young people and their families.