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Monday, March 17, 2008

Back on Tour – Western Australia

The WA Listening Tour kicked off today with a meeting with the Pay Equity Unit at the WA Department of Labour and Consumer Protection. Did you know that WA has the largest gender pay gap of any state or territory? The difference between men and women’s full time earnings in WA is 27%. This is 11% higher than the national average. The Pay Equity Unit is doing some interesting work to address this issue including industry specific education and awareness raising, gender pay gap audits and reviews and monitoring and reporting of trends. You can read more about these initiatives .

We then made our way to the Curtin Graduate School of Business where we held a public consultation in partnership with WiSER (Women in Social and Economic Research, Curtin University) and the Equal Opportunity Commission, WA. Around 40 passionate and engaged participants raised concerns similar to the rest of the country - anxiety about retirement savings, the need to recognize and value unpaid caring work and the right for women and children to live without the fear of harassment and violence.

Specific to WA, participants put on the table the significant gender pay gap and housing affordability, particularly for women on low incomes or on welfare. One gentleman echoed the sentiments of a number of older people I have met on my Tour, telling me of his frustration about the new requirements for older drivers to sit new tests at the age of 85 and the bureacracy to be negotiated to undertake the test.

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