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young women volunteering for the working womens centre sa

Centres for working women at risk

This story is about our fight to save the Working Women’s Centres in the NT and Queensland. It was published by The Saturday Paper on 22 May 2021. 

Find the full story here. 

Despite this month’s federal budget pledging $3.2 billion to women, a critical front-line service has lost much of its funding and will likely close before the end of the year.

 

Loss of work, isolation and worry

Report- Loss of work, isolation and worry – 29 April 2021

The Working Women’s Centre SA has launched a new report: Loss of work, isolation and worry: the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on young women. The report finds that young women have been hit by loss of work, increased pressure at work and home and the mental health impacts of COVID-19.

Issues including insecure work, economy inequality and violence against women, which were exacerbated by COVID-19, position young women as the most in need of support through gender responsive COVID-19 recovery plans.

We are optimistic that the COVID-19 recovery is an opportunity for real and affective change. Our report emphasises that the creation of secure jobs in feminised sectors will improve employment for women and improve the economy through the COVID-19 recovery.

 

Through a survey of 293 women under 30 in South Australia, we found that since the pandemic hit:

  • 44% of survey respondents felt more discouraged about the prospect of finding work
  • 30% became more afraid of losing their job
  • 40% had concerns about contracting COVID-19 because of work
  • 48% said they were very worried or anxious about money
  • 71% had become more anxious, sad or depressed
  • Over 1 in 5 had lost their job
  • Over a quarter had hours or pay reduced

The report is a unique snapshot of the impact of COVID-19 specifically on young women in SA, looking at the combined impact of age and gender on these women’s shared experiences of the pandemic.

 

Our recommendations include:

  1. Investment into the creation of secure jobs for women through investment in feminised sectors and a commitment to minimum job security requirements
  2. The funding of a program of dedicated apprenticeships or traineeships for women
  3. The introduction of gender responsive budgeting
  4. A new mechanism for young women to be heard at a policy making level

Please find the full report here. 

For media enquiries, or to found out how you can support the recommendations, please contact Maddie at maddie@wwc.org.au

A group of young women

Save the Northern Territory and Queensland Working Women’s Centres  

Media Statement

22 April 2021

 

The Working Women’s Centres call on the Federal Government to immediately take action and fund the Northern Territory and Queensland Working Women’s Centres.

The funding and establishment of Working Women’s Centres in every Australian state and territory is essential to addressing workplace sexual harassment, and forms a key part of the Respect@Work report, appearing at recommendation 49.

The recommendation is that ‘Australian governments provide increased and recurrent funding to working women’s centres, to provide information, advice and assistance to vulnerable workers who experience sexual harassment, taking into account particular needs of workers facing intersectional discrimination.’

The Federal Government has agreed to this recommendation in the Roadmap for Respect. However, the government has failed to provide certainty as to its funding commitment or timeframes around these discussions.

We cannot wait. The Northern Territory and Queensland WWCs have 10 weeks to find funding or face the prospect of closing.  This will be devastating to working women in QLD and the NT and it will fly in the face of the federal governments promises to address gendered violence in the workplace.

*

The Government must act now and immediately fund the NT and QLD services. Our clients, communities and working women are depending on us. Working Women are depending on the government to save their services, who work and understand the local environment and the challenges in which they live and work.

Funding Working Women’s Centres is an easy, immediate and tangible solution for the prevention of sexual violence. This is the first test for the new Attorney General and the federal government since their response to the Report’s 55 recommendations.

Experts and leaders in gender equity regularly talk about the Working Women’s Centre holistic model as world leading. WWCs form the backbone of the fight to eliminate gendered violence in our workplaces and the community.

*

Director of the QLD Working Women’s Centre Fiona Hunt says: “All women deserve safe workplaces and someone to champion them when they are treated unfairly. WWC QLD works with the most vulnerable women in QLD to keep them employed, to get what they are entitled and to walk away fairly if needed.”

Director, of the NT WWC Nicki Petrou says: “In a climate when women’s safety at work has again hit the headlines, when the Federal Government has committed to building women’s workforce participation, economic security and making women’s homes and  workplaces safe, funding specialist women’s services such as the Working Women’s Centres who are here now continuing to do the work, in supporting women with workplace issues and throughout COVID is especially critical. This also makes good sense.”

Director of the SA WWC Abbey Kendall says: “The South Australian WWC is a great example of what a secure and funded and working women’s centre can do for workplaces, vulnerable people and working women. We make a big impact in South Australia but we need a national approach to this issue. We need an alliance of well funded Working Women’s Centres in every state and territory and the first step to achieving that is to save the NT and QLD centres”. 

Media contacts: 

WWC NT Director – Nicki Petrou, – 08 8981 0655 -  nicki@ntwwc.com.au

WWC QLD Director - Fiona Hunt, 07 3847 5532 - fionah@brq.org.au

tor Abbey Kendall, 08 8410 6499, abbey@wwc.org.au

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Background on WWC  

The Working Women’s Centres are not-for-profit organisations which providefree advice, representation and support to vulnerable, workers about their rights at work. Additionally, the WWC’s advocate for systemic change to improve women’s workplace conditions and safety, and offer a range of free and fee for service training for workers and employers about workplace rights. This includes bullying, sexual harassment, and appropriately responding to disclosures of domestic violence.

There are currently 3 WWCs across the country (SA, NT and QLD). The only WWC with secure funding is WWC SA with the QLD service now a program of the Basic Rights Centre following non continuation of its funding 4 years earlier.

The Working Women’s Centre is made up of three arms:

Industrial/Legal support – we provide advice and representation to vulnerable workers who contact the Centre with work issues through 1:1 clinic appointments

Advocacy – we conduct advocacy to resolve systemic issues that affect women and other vulnerable workers, such as sexual harassment and precarious work

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