Spring has arrived. As we witness the unfurling of fresh blossoms, see the re-emergence of the sun (and some rain), a sense of positivity begins to grow in some of us because spring is a time for renewal and fresh beginnings. Spring is a time of hope. But not for everyone – in the ACT we see a growing gap between those who enjoy Canberra’s prosperity and livability and those who don’t. This compromises the economic and social wellbeing of both individuals and families, especially ACT women.
The Needs Of ACT Women In The Lead-Up To The ACT Election And The 2016 Poverty Week
By Marcia Williams—Executive Director
In the lead-up to the ACT election WCHM was one of 19 diverse community organisations who endorsed a shared statement for the ACT 2016 Election which outlines the community priorities for action during the 2016-2020 term of the ACT Government. We supported the statement because it highlights key areas that we know are important to women in the ACT and which impact on their health and wellbeing – including the need for an increase in affordable housing. Rents are high, home ownership is harder to attain and waiting lists for public housing are long, and as a result homelessness is a difficult reality for some women in the ACT. In our March quarterly we looked at how housing is a gendered issue and which groups of women are affected.
Other relevant areas for women in the Statement included the need to develop transport services that are accessible and affordable; to invest in health infrastructure that increases accessibility to services and affordability; reducing domestic and family violence and improving supports for people affected by it and recovering from trauma; sustaining and expanding access to specialist legal information, advice and representation; and increasing access to secure jobs that pay a living wage.
We know that in the ACT women are more likely to live in poverty. A 10-year study released by the University of Canberra in 2013 revealed that women were one of the disadvantaged groups most likely to be living in poverty. Women in poverty are often hidden in the affluent urban areas of Canberra. That is why we are also planning for Anti-Poverty Week which is taking place on the 16th to the 22nd of October. This is a week where all Australians are encouraged to take part in or organise an activity aiming to highlight or overcome issues of poverty and hardship.
WCHM will use be using the Week to highlight what we know from our recent work about women in the ACT who have experienced domestic violence. This is because we know that following separation from a violent partner, women and their children are likely to experience significant income loss and financial hardship. In the ACT, over 21,000 women have contacted the Domestic Violence Crisis Service in the last financial year, and DVCS workers observe that “the experience of poverty particularly where there are children, can be enough to make women return to violent situations”. Imagine having made the difficult decision to leave an abusive relationship and then finding you cannot afford to maintain a home on a single income or that you are responsible for your abusive ex-partners’ debts, or contracts that you were coerced into signing. Imagine facing the prospect of either homelessness and financial hardship or returning to the violent partner, as that is the ‘best’ option financially.
WCHM Women And Work
Welcome to the September edition of Women and Work. We’ve been working hard to strive to improve the health and wellbeing of local women.
We are pleased to announce that WCHM launched a Safety Mapping Tool recently which was developed with Black Swan Productions. This nifty and innovative online tool enables people to identify areas where they feel safe or unsafe in Canberra, and to tell us why. can be completed on your PC or on a mobile device. We hope the information that WCHM collects will be useful in understanding gendered perspectives of public spaces and will help to inform future policy and planning efforts in the ACT. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first map of its kind in Canberra, and maybe all of Australia. We need your help to make sure it’s a success. It’s really exciting! If you have not tried the tool yet, please take a moment and check it out. The tool was designed to be simple and fun to use; however, we understand that instructions are valuable and you can find them on our website. Please don’t forget to share the tool with your friends and family.
We want to thank all the women who participated in our Women’s Health Utilisation Survey. We received 828 responses, of which 601 were completed. We are currently in the process of analysing the results. We may be conducting further research via forums so stay tuned for more information.
Recently the ACT Women’s Plan 2016-26.was launched. The plan identifies 5 priority areas for action, these are: health and wellbeing, housing and homelessness, safety, economic security and leadership. The plan acknowledges that these areas can overlap and that health is socially determined. We were pleased to see that the plan recognised that the work of gender specific services like WCHM, along with Brindabella Women’s Group and Majura Women’s Group, play an important function in understanding and addressing the social and economic factors that determine women’s health. The Plan recognises the need for services and initiatives which respond to the different requirements of women and men and recognise that some health issues are particularly influential for women’s wellbeing, including contraception and reproductive health, maternity care and birthing options, and the profound impact of past or current trauma and violence – all areas which WCHM has been involved in over the past year.
We are continuing to progress our Beyond Crisis forums, to try and build partnerships with business and industry leaders to address the barriers that women face when they leave domestic violence. We have completed forums on 5 of our 7 target areas. With support from Ernst & Young, Deloitte, PwC and KPMG, we have successfully completed forums on housing, legal, childcare, pets and insurance. And we will be working with Deloitte and Protiviti in October to focus on forums relating to finance and transport.
We are also hosting or partnering on a few upcoming events, which showcase the range of issues we work on from confronting issues to positive community building ones. One event is to further recognition and advocacy of the often hidden issue of forced marriage and the other is a celebration of motherhood and wellbeing.
The University of Canberra and the Women’s Centre for Health Matters are hosting a forum addressing the topic of how Canberra women from a wide range of backgrounds use (or don’t use) digital health technologies. We are interested in hearing about what ACT women think about these kinds of technologies, how they use them, which they find most helpful or useful, which they don’t. And what they want from these technologies that is not currently offered? If you are interested in being involved in these discussions, you can register at https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/women-and-digital-health-what-works-for-you-what-doesnt-tickets-27804061697. We would love to hear what you have to say! Please RSVP by 18 October.
Mums can take a break and come and join us for yoga on October 13th led by yoga instructor, Eli Haski. We are holding this event in partnership with PANDSI as our contribution to celebrate Mental Health Week. This year’s theme is to Learn and Grow Together. Improved mental wellbeing is often linked to important social supports. Exercise has also been demonstrated to play a important role in mental wellbeing. Come have fun with us, learn some yoga with us and help grow our wonderful community of women. A light morning tea will be served. The event is free but space is limited, please don’t forget to RSVP.
WCHM supported the ACT Domestic Violence Prevention Council to release a campaign which aims to create greater awareness in the ACT community about what domestic and family violence looks like, and who it affects, and to identify it as a community issue. You can help support the campaign – It doesn’t have to end here. FAMILY AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. We can all help. – in the following ways:
- Follow the campaign on social media https://www.facebook.com/DVPCCanberra
- Go to the What can you do? About domestic and family violence, (including sexual violence) in the ACT website where you can find information about domestic, family and sexual violence and find out what you can do and where you can go www.helpstopdv.org.au
- Share the videos
If you would like to help create awareness about this important issue in your workplace, organisation or through your networks, we have four posters you can print out and use from the DVPC website.
We hope you have enjoyed our September Quarterly updates and are loving the blooming flowers and warmer weather.
We also partnered with the YWCA and the Salvation Army to deliver a workshop on Responding to Forced Marriage in Australia on Tuesday, September 27th. The workshop is an early outcome of the newly established ACT anti-slavery network.
We hope you have enjoyed our September Quarterly updates and are loving the blooming flowers and warmer weather.
Worth Checking Out
Women Are Satisfied With ‘Women’s Work’ but Not With the Pay is an article which analyses research conducted by Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre about how women feel about their job roles, the gender pay gap, and some of the reasons women are working in roles that don’t suit their pay requirements.
The women’s money toolkit is a government resource which is tailored to the unique financial challenges faced by women; such as having less super than men, living longer and taking time out of paid work to care for others. It has a quiz which can be taken to personalise the information to suit you. Click on the information heading which is relevant to you and a To Do list will appear with handy links to suit your information, such as; an online budget planner, super and age pension calculator, how to develop an investment plan and many more!
Research tells us that the best protection against poverty is a full-time job. This report, a joint release by WCHM and the ACT Council of Social Service, examines labour market trends in Canberra. It shows that, outside of public sector employment, industries with growing employment opportunities that do not require degree-level qualifications typically offer lower wages and relatively high rates of part-time employment. These are also industries where women are over-represented. Rates of pay and hours of work suggest that some workers in the ACT are likely to struggle to earn enough to cover their costs of living. The 6 page overview document highlights the key trends emerging from publicly available labour market data while the 16 page report provides a fuller account of that raw data.
Get the facts about money, relationships and your life. This website is both visually stunning and easy to use. It contains three categories: an introduction to women and money; your money and your life; and putting it into practice. Each category contains 2 minute videos which talk about some of the issues associated with women and money. There is also text underneath the video which goes into further detail and contains some resources which can be used. There is a “quick exit” always located in the top right hand corner for extra peace of mind.
Women with Cents is a blog website by Natasha Janssen. It contains advice on a variety of issues which affect women’s finances such as: budgeting; debt; investment; mortgage; superannuation. Signing up to the website is free and you receive free weekly tools, tip and strategies. Or you can simply browse the information provided on the website.