Minister for Employment and Small Business and Minister for Training and Skills Development Shannon Fentiman today will co-host a public forum on Women and Poverty as part of the 15th national Anti-Poverty week events.
“Today we mark the fifteenth annual Anti-Poverty Week and take the opportunity to highlight the plight of the women in poverty,” Ms Fentiman said.
“The forum will focus on the big issues of financial hardship, inequality, homelessness and isolation affecting women in Queensland.”
“I thank my co-hosts Micah Projects for organising this event to draw attention to the plight of women who continue to be more likely to live below the poverty line than men.”
The forum at Parliament House will include sessions on poverty and older women and poverty and violence, with several women who have experienced poverty sharing their personal stories.
“State Government statistics show that women, aged 55 and older, seeking assistance for homelessness increased by 21 per cent between 2011 and 2017,” Ms Fentiman said.
“As Queensland women experience lifestyle changes later in life we need to make sure the opportunities are there.”
“The ability to access education and training is often the key to escaping poverty and gaining financial independence.”
“Average superannuation balances for women at retirement (aged 60-64) are 42 per cent lower than those for men.”
“One in three Queensland women will retire with no superannuation at all.”
“Last year QSuper teamed up with the Department of Communities on a pilot project to offer education and advice to female public servants about strategies to maximise contributions throughout their career.”
“ANZ is also to be congratulated for their efforts to establish a Women’s Advice Service with free super advice for all customers and female staff,” Ms Fentiman said
“One South East Queensland charity says that within the last six months they’ve supported more than 70 women over the age of 50.”
The service provided crisis accommodation, financial support, access to health, legal and financial counselling services, emotional support, clothing, toiletries, food and transport.
Minister for Women and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence Di Farmer said the Palaszczuk Government is championing gender equality and is actively working towards fair representation of women in all spheres of society.
“The Queensland Women’s Strategy celebrates what we have achieved so far and provides a plan for government, business and the community to work together to achieve gender equality in Queensland,” Ms Farmer said.
“With the support of the private and non-government sectors as well as the community, we can make gender equality a reality.”
“We know that women experiencing domestic violence have an increased risk of facing disadvantage and it impacts on their social and economic participation, health, housing and security,” she said.
“The Palaszczuk Government’s Violence Against Women Prevention Plan 2016-22 focuses on shifting community attitudes, decreasing the risk of violence for women and holding perpetrators to account and preventing re-offending.”
Micah Projects CEO Karyn Walsh will present the session on poverty and violence.
Ms Walsh says many women’s economic independence is compromised and disrupted by domestic violence at a great cost to the national economy.
“The Australian Institute for Health and Welfare reported that violence against women and children cost $22 billion in 2015–16 in Australia,” Ms Walsh said.
“Of that cost, it is calculated 52 per cent is borne by victims and survivors, 29 per cent by the perpetrators, employers, friends and family and 19 per cent by government.”
Minister Fentiman said the Palaszczuk Government’s programs such as Skilling Queenslanders for Work and Back to Work supported women to re-enter the workforce.
“More than 17,500 women have been assisted through the Skilling Queenslanders for Work program with 63 per cent reporting a positive outcome of either secure employment, further training or education, or both.
“Our successful Back to Work program has helped 7,050 women return to employment, representing over 40 per cent of program participants.
“I am proud that thousands of women have had their lives changed for the better because of these programs.”
Micah Projects is a not-for-profit organisation in Brisbane committed to social justice.
Minister for Employment and Small Business and Minister for Training and Skills Development
The Honourable Shannon Fentiman