Legislative Council: Wednesday, September 27, 2023


Office for Women

The Hon. S.L. GAME (14:51): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before directing a question to the Attorney-General, representing the Treasurer, regarding the Office for Women.

Leave granted.

The Hon. S.L. GAME: I have advocated in this place multiple times for an office and minister for men to be created. We know males are three to four times more likely to take their lives than females. In 2021, there were 2,358 male deaths at a rate of 18.2 per 100,000 and there were 786 female deaths at a rate of 6.1 per 100,000. In 2021, the number of deaths by suicide was higher for males than females in all reported age groups, yet this government has not provided any indication that this issue is important enough to have a dedicated office for men.

I want a minister and office for men like there is for women. My office began looking at the funding allocation provided to the Office for Women and ran into many roadblocks. We went to the state budget: there was nothing. We looked at the Auditor-General's Report: there was nothing. We tried on the Office for Women's official website: again, nothing.

We then engaged the Parliament Research Library to shed light, and their response showed there is no clear indication of how much this office is funded. What we do know is that it is a business unit within the Department of Human Services and recent estimate debates revealed the department is funded $963 million, with funding directed towards many initiatives for women but no indication of what that elusive figure is for the Office for Women. My questions to the Attorney-General are:

1. What portion of the state budget is specifically directed to the Office for Women and its many initiatives?

2. How can we take the government seriously on issues of equity and equality if the government is not willing to establish an office for men?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (14:53): I thank the honourable member for her question. I have to say, this government doesn't share the member's view about the need for what she is suggesting. Historically, the structural impediments to women taking their rightful place in society have been many and varied.

Over the centuries gone by, men have done alright. The fact that we see representation in parliaments throughout this country being so male-dominated, to this day, speaks volumes to that. I am proud of my party, which has had quotas in that have seen so many amazing, talented women represent the parliamentary Labor Party in this parliament.

As I say, we don't share the honourable member's view about the necessity for what is being suggested. Certainly, there are areas and outcomes in health and other areas where men have disproportionately higher adverse outcomes than women, and they are being addressed in health programs and in other programs. I have to say, we just don't share the views of the honourable member in this respect.