By Georgina Pickers – Human Rights Adviser

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The Inaugural meeting of COAG Advisory Panel on Domestic Violence met in early June. This panel aims to focus on innovative, practical and deliverable proposals to reduce violence against Women and children. While all the states including Queensland have increased measures to combat this social scourge it is hoped that elevation of this problem to a Federal level will produce a more uniform approach, cultural change and positive outcome.

Gender Equality is imbedded in Human Rights. It is therefore sad to report, that as a modern well educated developed country Australia lags in the area of women’s participation in business, particularly their representation as CEOs and participation on boards, although this percentage has increased from 8.3% in 2009 to 19.9% as of May 2015 (ASX200 listing)

The gender pay gap is currently around 18.8% or $298.10 per week. The International gender pay gap is around 18.7%. The pay gap between men and women in the private sector is approximately 22.4% and 12.3% in the public sector. Australia is currently ranked no.24 on the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Index, which compiles data on education, health, social policies etc. As Elizabeth Broderick, current Sex Discrimination Commissioner who steps down in September, remarked that although it puts Australia in the more advanced group in terms of gender equality, the change here is “glacially slow”

Overall female representation has only increased from 28% to 32% in 10 years, and Australia’s international ranking for participation in Federal Government has declined over the past decade from 21st out of 186 countries in 2004 to 43rd in 2014. The Australian Labor Party has preselected more female candidates (in winnable seats) than that of their conservative counterparts.

Queensland’s Shadow Minister for Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services, Tracy Davis MP has tabled a draft bill to the Queensland Parliament to provide for the disclosure of convictions for domestic violence or sexual offences. This significant initiative will be based on the ‘Clare’s Law’ model introduced in the United Kingdom in 2014. When passed, the legislation will anyone to make an application about a persons who is in an intimate relationship, where there is a concern that that person may harm their partner. This avenue is also available to a concerned third party, such as a parent, neighbour or friend, not just the potential victim. While application and disclosure conditions need to be incorporated, it is anticipated that when the legislation is passed, it will help combat domestic violence, sexual assault offences, especially with the rise in use of social network websites.

Organisations and individuals are invited to complete a response sheet on the proposal.

Visit: www.clareslawqld.com for more information.

The Womens Action Group in Queensland and other states are seriously alarmed about Female Genital Mutilation (FMG) and ending the practice and potentiality in Australia amongst newly arrived immigrants from African, Middle Eastern and other countries. While state laws regard the practice as illegal it is not covered yet by an overarching Federal law that would give it ‘teeth’ as well as making it illegal to take young girls and children abroad for the procedure. As FGM violates various human rights under international and national law it is vital that women’s groups such as NCW support this move. For more information visit: www.nofgmoz.com

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