Michelle Lensink

Office For Women

I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the minister for the Status of Women a question about appointments within her portfolio.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: In South Australia, what have once been permanent positions of the director of the Office for Women and the manager for the Women's Information Service have more recently been advertised as acting positions of some 12 months. I, and I think other honourable members, have been contacted by women's advocacy services, which are very concerned that this is a move to downgrade the services that both these offices provide. My questions to the minister are:

1.Why have these positions not been advertised on a permanent basis?

2.What effect has this had on the number of applicants compared with previous recruitment advertising campaigns?

3.Will the minister confirm whether the offices for the Office for Women and the Women's Information Service have been or are being downgraded?

The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for State/Local Government Relations, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for Consumer Affairs, Minister for Government Enterprises, Minister for the City of Adelaide) (14:32): I thank the honourable member for her most important questions. Quite the converse is occurring in relation to the Office for Women. It will go from strength to strength and has done so in the last number of years. The director's position has been an acting one for some time. Particularly most recently that relates to the budget initiatives we have been looking at and the savings we have been required to find. We had proposed to look at a restructuring of the office in line with other areas as well, and in light of the considerations that were under way it was felt that it was appropriate to have the position remain acting.

Members would be well aware from the budget announcements that we have proposed a new merger involving the Office for Women, multicultural affairs and a number of other areas as well that will come together to create streamlining of particularly back-of-shop type procedures and work and administrative roles. This will create a streamlining of services and will reduce duplication. Currently these very small agencies operate in a way that duplicates a range of different services. In light of that there will be a major restructure. The integrity of the Office for Women and the vital policy work it contributes will remain intact, although obviously there will be a restructure and there could also be a rebadging. Those details are currently being worked through, but it in no way reflects a diminution of the role and function of the office; in fact, quite the opposite: I believe that we will have even better services come out of that office. They will be more efficient and more effective and we look forward to that.The position will then be allocated around the new structure once that new structure has been signed off.

In terms of the recent incumbents, I put on the record that each and every one of those people in that acting position have been of an extremely high calibre. I have to say how incredibly fortunate I have been to have had such strong leadership within the Office for Women over a number of years. When vacancies became available we had a large number of applications, all from high calibre applicants, and, as I said, I cannot stress strongly enough how fortunate we have been, how privileged we have been, to have that particular leadership within that office.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (14:36): Can the minister confirm whether the Women's Information Service is also captured as part of this restructure?

The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for State/Local Government Relations, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for Consumer Affairs, Minister for Government Enterprises, Minister for the City of Adelaide) (14:36): It is. The Women's Information Service is one of those very important services provided from the Office for Women. We are currently looking at that service and looking at ways, again, to improve efficiencies and to ensure that that role and function continues in an ongoing way, providing relevant, vital and contemporary services in line with community needs and expectations. So, it is timely that we look at that and make sure that we are providing contemporary services in line with community needs and expectations.

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