Legislative Council: Wednesday, June 28, 2023



International Cleaners Day

Adjourned debate on motion of Hon. R.B. Martin:

That this council—

1. Notes that 15 June 2023 is International Cleaners Day;

2. Acknowledges that International Cleaners Day calls for the worldwide recognition and respect of the essential work done by cleaners to support the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities; and

3. Congratulates all cleaners and cleaning staff for their hard work and dedication.

(Continued from 14 June 2023.)

The Hon. H.M. GIROLAMO (12:50): I rise today to acknowledge International Cleaners Day on 15 June and, more importantly, to acknowledge the essential work that they do. I thank the honourable member for bringing this important motion to the parliament.

This motion shines a light on those who may not always enjoy the spotlight from this parliament but provide essential services here in Parliament House and across greater society. In some ways, certainly in Australia, the essential work that cleaners do so consistently is often taken for granted. It is their reliability and consistency that lead to under-recognition. It is only when the bins are overflowing or the offices are a mess that, when resolved, we look to thank them for their services.

In researching this motion and its history, I want to put on the record what I found out as to why International Cleaners Day is held on 15 June each year: 15 June is the anniversary of the 1990 Justice for Janitors March in Century City, Los Angeles. This march ended with as many as 50 baton-wielding police officers cutting short the march of 400 people; 40 people were arrested and more than two dozen were injured according to the Los Angeles Times report. The violent images of immigrant workers being beaten by LA police for protesting circulated around the world and raised public awareness and support for the janitors' cause.

That bring us to the modern day and, thankfully, cleaners in Australia are treated with a lot more respect. Certainly during COVID, those who kept the offices, homes and communities and gathering areas clean were, in a large way, contributing to keeping us all safe. That is not to mention those who worked in the hospitals and who, by working in such environments with the pressure and burden of that environment, were really the frontline workers protecting the rest of us from the pandemic disease. This motion is a testament to their good work and all the more so for us in South Australia as we were able to get through the pandemic quite well compared with other jurisdictions.

I will finish with words of thanks to all those who silently but reliably and consistently keep our work, our home and our community environments clean so that we may be healthy, and especially to the cleaners in this place who are, again, silent and unassuming but as reliable and consistent as they are dedicated and needed. Thank you to all cleaners. I congratulate them for their hard work and dedication.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (12:54): International Cleaners Day is perhaps a day that many people are not aware of. It is something that, as previous speakers have alluded to, recognises the importance of cleaners in our state, in so many institutions and in so many environments. Those who are participating in this sector of the workforce are often unappreciated and again, as has been mentioned, it is only when they are absent that we particularly notice how important they are to our communities.

We know that many people participate in the cleaning profession from a variety of backgrounds and in a variety of ways, sometimes simply part time as a supplement to their income, other times in a full-time and long-term capacity. I think there is an opportunity for us to really think about where we would be if we did not have cleaners here for our state. They are employed both in a private capacity and in institutions, including our government institutions.

Many people have started their own businesses within cleaning or other domestic assistance work, and I think they are to be congratulated. Particularly in a number of regional areas where small businesses begin their journey, it can be very important to recognise this as a step towards not only self-employment but also independence. We know that it has traditionally been a very female-dominated profession, but that has been changing over recent years. I think it is excellent that we have this as a day to commemorate and mark, and I fully support the motion.

Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. L.A. Henderson.

Sitting suspended from 12:57 to 14:17.