Minister Rishworth interview on ABC News Breakfast with Michael Rowland


Topics: International Women’s Day, Family and Domestic Violence Frontline Workers, Sussan Ley, Death of Jack Fitzgibbon

MICHAEL ROWLAND, HOST: To mark International Women's Day, the Federal Government has released the second annual status of women report card. It shows there are still some big disparities between men and women, particularly when it comes to unpaid care as well as leadership. The Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth joins us now from Adelaide. Minister, good morning to you and happy International Women's Day.

AMANDA RISHWORTH, MINISTER FOR SOCIAL SERVICES: Happy International Women's Day to you as well, Michael.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: We have some big disparities, as we mentioned in this latest gender report card. The plus is that the gender pay gap is at a record low. Australia is now ranked 26 globally for gender equality, compared to 43rd in last year's report. But women do more than nine hours a week more unpaid work and care than men, and 26 per cent of women recently experience sexual harassment experienced at work. So, there's still a lot to do, isn't there?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: Look, there is a lot still to do to ensure that women not only have economic equality, but feel safe in our community and in our society and so we do have to work towards doing more to close that gender pay gap. While it is at a record low, there's still more to do. But particularly we need to look at ways we do promote more shared care. I think many dads would like to do more caring and spend more time with their children, and more women would like their partners to be able to have that support. So, we need to look at all our settings to make sure that we're promoting at every opportunity that shared care between families.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: Sadly, Minister, as you well know, way too many Australian women are dying from domestic violence, more often than not at the hands of their intimate partners. You're saying in your statement today more needs to be done to address women's safety. What more is the Government going to do to stop this appalling, absolutely appalling toll?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: Look, you're absolutely right. One death as a result of domestic and family violence is one too many. But of course, there is just too high rates of family and domestic violence. What we've really got to do is make sure we're tackling in the four domains outlined in the National Plan – and that's prevention, early intervention, response and healing and recovery. But one of the big areas that we're very focused on is holding perpetrators to account. That's something that victim survivors have said they want us to hear, changing the attitudes of men and boys, but also making sure that perpetrators are held to account for their behaviour. Men that choose violence do get held to account, so there is a lot of work going into that. One of the really big challenges, though, is really, in terms of those attitudes towards women is actually some of the online influences we are seeing. There are many online influences that are encouraging negative stereotypes towards women and encouraging violence against women, people like Andrew Tate. And so we need to be tackling that with alternative, healthy role models so that we do not see that the progress we've made in terms of the attitude toward violence against women actually go backwards in the next generation.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: Yeah, 100 per cent. Role models are very important indeed. Now, the Coalition this morning is saying that the Government has only put on two of the promised 500 frontline domestic workers that you promised back in 2021. Is that true?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: Well, no, they don't have their facts correct. We have now got 17 full-time equivalent workers on board. But, yes, we do need to work hard to make sure that we are putting more workers on board. Of course, the states and territories have received two payments, two funding payments, one as far back as June last year, and we are working with them to make sure that they are putting on the workers that we need, recruiting the workers that we need. But I am disappointed that Sussan Ley has turned this into a political football. Of course, if they had been re-elected, we wouldn't have seen any money for national partnerships, any money for these workers. We put the money in our Budget and we're working with the states and territories through paying them to employ these workers and get these workers on the ground.

MICHAEL ROWLAND: I've got to finish by asking you, Amanda Rishworth, as a member of the Labor family, this awful, awful news, the death of Jack Fitzgibbon, a soldier who died in that parachuting accident, the son of your former Labor MP colleague, Joel Fitzgibbon, hitting home really hard this morning.

AMANDA RISHWORTH: Oh, look, it is hitting home really hard. My thoughts are with Joel and his family and also all those in the ADF. A training incident such as this would have huge reverberations through those colleagues that perhaps were first responders and those that were around him. So, it's absolutely tragic news and a reminder that serving in the Defence force comes with risk. And I'd just like to acknowledge Jack's service to our country and really, though, mainly today, is my thoughts are with his grieving family, which is an absolute tragedy.