Important lessons can be drawn from Australia’s workplace relations system to help Timor-Leste as it strives to create workplace rights for women, Parliamentary Secretary for Workplace Relations, Senator Jacinta Collins told the Our Work Our Lives 2011 conference in a keynote address in Dili today.
“The key to achieving workplace rights for women is having the right legislation, the right workplace relations system and strong unions,” Senator Collins said.
Senator Collins acknowledged that while Timor-Leste is still in the process of establishing a permanent set of workplace relations laws, its interim laws have as one of their stated objectives the prohibition of discrimination between women and men.
“Australia’s Fair Work Act 2009 was a positive Labor Government reform made to support working women balance work, family responsibilities and increases workforce participation.”
“I am proud that our new workplace relations system restores the rights and conditions of the most vulnerable workers in Australia,” Senator Collins said.
The Gillard Government’s support in the equal remuneration test case for employees in the social and community services sector, which consists predominately of women, is an example of how a strong workplace relations system can support and protect working women.
Senators Crossin and Moore have highlighted for many years the vital work that Community Based Employment Advice Services (CBEAS), such as Australian Working Women’s Centres (WWC), deliver in local communities.
A life member of the Northern Territory WWC, Senator Crossin said "The NT WWC provides crucial support and assistance to women about work related matters, focussing on women in disadvantage bargaining positions and in low paid and insecure work."
Senator Moore said, “The Queensland WWC is a vital resource, informing women about their rights in the workplace.”
Acknowledging the Government’s support for the establishment of the Timor-Leste WWC, Senator Collins said, “The Government is committed to providing ongoing support for CBEAS and will ensure that those arrangements are in place by 1 July 2012.”
Our Work Our Lives 2011, the 4th conference on women and industrial relations, is presented by the Timor-Leste WWC with the support of the Australian National Network of Working Women’s Centres, the University of South Australia and the Queensland University of Technology.
The Australian Government is also supporting employment opportunities in Timor-Leste with International Labour Organisation (ILO) projects such as the Youth Employment Promotion Programme.
“It was a privilege to speak with young Timorese participants, who are improving their lives and expanding their opportunities.”
“Their achievements demonstrate the practical and real difference Australia is making to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through the Australia-ILO Partnership Agreement.”