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Estimates: Women and Girls, and Migrant Workers

Estimates & Committees
Lee Rhiannon 16 Feb 2012

Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee

Estimates hearings, 16 February 2012

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

  • Senator Anne McEwen, Labor Senator for South Australia
  • Mr Dennis Richardson, Departmental Secretary
  • Ms Penny Williams, Global Ambassador for Women and Girls
  • Mr James Larsen, Ambassador for People Smuggling

Full transcript available here

Senator RHIANNON: I have a question of the Global Ambassador for Women and Girls and then I was going to ask about the migrant women's workers convention. Again, congratulations. It warms our heart and is a very good decision of the government. What is the budget of your office, please?

Ms Williams: As you know, my position was established in September. I have not had an allocated budget per se. At the moment we are building our budget. It is predominantly based around travel. I do not have a program budget. I think we have explained previously that the program funding for development assistance rests with AusAID. Mine is a diplomatic position, predominantly around travel, and we are building a budget as we speak.

Senator RHIANNON: When you say 'building a budget', does that mean after the May budget there will then be a budget item for your office?

Ms Williams: No.

Mr D Richardson: No.

Senator RHIANNON: In the statement of the 13 September, 2011, in talking about priorities you listed one of the priorities as improving access to services for women. Does that include comprehensive sex and reproductive health services and, if it does, could you outline what is being done in this area, please?

Ms Williams: I think those questions are probably best directed to AusAID in the later hearing. My role very much is one of highlighting what the role of women in our development assistance program is and obviously that covers the broad range of issues from education through to sexual, reproductive and maternal health. I really think for the detail of that question you are probably best placed to raise that with AusAID.

Senator RHIANNON: But that is one of the priorities of services for women?

Ms Williams: In terms of highlighting the role of women in our development assistance program, yes.

Senator RHIANNON: Thank you very much. I will move on to the issue of migrant workers. Sorry to speed along.

CHAIR: For Ms Williams?

Senator RHIANNON: No. I do apologise to Ms Williams, it is just because we are out of time.

CHAIR: Ms Williams, Senator McEwan has a follow-up question.

Senator McEWEN: Are you attending the Commission on the Status of Women meeting at the UN?

Ms Williams: I am.

Senator McEWEN: That is in a couple of weeks, is that right?

Ms Williams: I will be leaving on 24 February.

Senator McEWEN: Who is in Australia's delegation to that?

Ms Williams: Australia's delegation is made up of the Office for Women, AusAID, the Sex Discrimination Commissioner and me.

Senator McEWEN: What is the focus of this year's meeting?

Ms Williams: The focus is on rural women. I will be involved in some panels on rural women, women with disabilities which is organised by Australian Network on Disability. I am also involved in a panel that plans running on forced and early marriage.

Senator McEWEN: We look forward to an update next estimates.

Senator RHIANNON: Mr Richardson, could you update the committee on Australia's response to the migrant workers convention with respect to ratification?

Mr Larsen: I will have to take that on notice. I do not have the details with me.

Mr D Richardson: The Department of Immigration and Citizenship will have the details on that, but given that it is a general treaty we can take it on notice.

Senator RHIANNON: Just to clarify that, because I was going to ask about any communication you had had with the department of immigration about this convention, are you saying that it is the department of immigration's responsibility before it is your responsibility?

Mr D Richardson: I believe so, yes.

Senator RHIANNON: Okay, that was a quick one.

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