Michelle Lensink

Institute Of Medical And Veterinary Science

This speech is to indicate support for the Institute Of Medical And Veterinary Science, which is a small and technical bill looking at some of the governance structures in relation to, first, the composition of the council and, secondly, enabling the Institute of Medical and Veterinary Science to conduct contracts overseas.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I rise to indicate that the opposition will support this particular bill, which is a small and technical bill looking at some of the governance structures in relation to, first, the composition of the council and, secondly, enabling the Institute of Medical and Veterinary Science to conduct contracts overseas. I do not propose to speak at length on this bill, due to the technical nature of it, but I would like to place on the record a few comments. In relation to these specific provisions, I under¬stand that there were two nominations to the council from the Royal Adelaide Hospital, which no longer exists as a legal entity and is now the Central Northern Adelaide Health Service; the other provision is to enable it to conduct contracts overseas.

I commend the IMVS which has been in operation since 1938 and which is quite a diverse and unique organisation in that it conducts a lot of diagnostic services for hospitals around the state and has a number of laboratories around the state. It has a very important research role through the Hanson Institute. It also has a commercial arm which is known as Medvet Science. It conducts a great range of research in different medical and health areas. Its core services are described on page 2 of the annual report as being diagnostic pathology, regional services, public health, training and teaching, research and supporting health professionals. The IMVS, through its research arm, has a very important role in driving some of the research programs in this state.

While we have this opportunity I think it is important to examine the governance structures of statutory authorities, because they come under the proviso of the government's legislation in seeking greater female representation on boards. I note that, at least according to this annual report, five of the council's 12 members are in fact women, but I note with some alarm that the executive group—of which there are some 16 members—has only one female in an executive position. I also note from the annual report the status of employees. There are some 1 200 people employed by the IMVS throughout the state. Something like two-thirds of those are female and, obviously, the other third are male.

Looking at the salary brackets, there is quite a disparity between female and male employment, which I think probably reflects some of the general public sector, but I think it is probably less equitable than the general public sector. If you do a breakdown, as I refer to page 22 of the report, there are 416 male employees and 802 female employees. Some 67 per cent of the female employees are in the salary bracket under $50 000, yet 58 per cent of the male employees are in the bracket over $50 000. That is not reflected in the contractual or permanent positions under which they might be employed.

The reason that I raise this is that science research is close to my heart, and I am well aware that there are issues for females who decide to have a career in medical research in that they undertake some fairly hefty studies to obtain a PhD. I think that there is a problem, probably throughout Australia, in terms of women's ongoing employment, partly due to the three-year funding cycle in which case, for some employees of institutions such as the IMVS, that might in fact be a 12-month by 12-month contract.

I place on the record some questions for the government. Does the IMVS have in place plans to improve its female representation at senior levels within the organisation? Has it attempted to increase the voluntary flexible working arrangements? I think that on these figures, as we know from the general public sector, use of flexi-time has been taken up as has some part-time job sharing, but neither the use of purchased leave, compressed weeks nor working from home has been taken up within the organisation. In fact, of those three categories, this shows that five people have utilised that. In the interests of the intellectual capital within our medical research facilities, those issues need to be addressed. I would appreciate it if the government could take that back to the IMVS and provide me with a response. With those brief comments, I commend the bill to the council.

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