Body Image Campaign

I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for the Status of Women a question regarding the South Australian Body Image Campaign.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Last year the minister announced the launch of the South Australian Body Image Campaign, and I quote from what she said in October 2014:

Self-confidence and body image  are among the most s ensitive issues for young women …This body image c ampaign is designed to empower young South Australian girls and remind them that character ,  skills and personality attributes are far more important than their weight and shape. We want a generation of young girls to look beyond stereotypes and find confidence within themselv es, and then to share this self- assuranc e with their friends and peers.

There have been several reports that women as young as 16 years old are availing themselves of cosmetic surgery and, certainly, that there has been a boom in the age bracket of 16 to 25 years. My questions to the minister are:

1.Is the use of cosmetic surgery one of the areas in which the campaign will send certain messages?

2.Is the minister aware of these alarming statistics in terms of her portfolio concerning the status of women?

3.Why has the government chosen to allocate $15,000 to this campaign when today they have announced they are running a campaign of $1.1 million to campaign against the federal government?

4.Does this indicate a level of priority where the government thinks the campaign against its federal counterpart is more important than the image of young women?

The Hon. G.E. GAGO  (Minister for Employment, Higher Education and Skills, Minister for Science and Information Economy, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for Business Services and Consumers)  ( 14:21 :09 ): I thank the honourable member for her most important question. Indeed, I did see those statistics come out that indicated that there has been an increase in younger people—teenagers—using cosmetic surgery, and I have to say that that is incredibly alarming.

I think this goes to that issue of body image and self-confidence helping particularly young girls from a very early age understand that it is not about external beauty, that beauty is within and that the sense of character and health and wellbeing and those sorts of attributes are far more important about one's person. That is one of the reasons that we launched the self-esteem campaign. It is targeting very young girls, as I have already outlined.

I do not think I need to outline the project again in this place. I have spoken about it in detail before, but that is why it is so important that we are able to capture young girls at a very early age to reinforce messages about not being overly preoccupied with their exterior in terms of what is classified as being beautiful, what is classified as being attractive and what is classified as being even female, which is often determined largely by men, actually, and often reinforced through media. That campaign seeks to work on those sorts of notions and, obviously, the more well-developed their sense of personal identity is from an early age, the less likelihood there is that as a teenager they will then be resorting to cosmetic surgery.

This government has committed large amounts of money. Our Watch is only one small aspect of our campaign, but we have committed a large amount of resourcing, as I said, to a wide range of projects to assist women and particularly women's safety. Some of these are our court assistance service, our early warning service, the contributions that we have made to the White Ribbon campaign, commitments around the DV perpetrator database and data on DV, the Family Safety Framework, our MAPS, which has delivered quite significant results, and the Coroner's Court DV position. The list goes on and on.

The body image campaign is only one element in an armour of a wide suite of commitments and funding, including the contribution to sponsorship to Our Watch, a foundation which of course has a very important part to play in changing social and cultural attitudes around women and cultivating respectful relationships. It also reinforces issues around body image, as well.

We have quite definitely put our money where our mouth is in terms of our commitment to these issues. I think the campaign to try to pressure the federal government into reversing some of its outrageous and draconian cuts is also money well spent. The proposed cuts have a devastating impact on people's lives and it is important that we do whatever we can to put the federal government in a position to revise their decision and reverse it.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK  ( 14:26 :31 ): Supplementary question arising from the minister's answer: do we therefore take it that the minister believes that the campaign that is about to be embarked upon is more important than this particular body image campaign for young women, given the massive, disproportionate amount of funding allocated?

The Hon. G.E. GAGO  (Minister for Employment, Higher Education and Skills, Minister for Science and Information Economy, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for Business Services and Consumers)  ( 14:26 :53 ): That is absolutely outrageous, and I would have thought the Hon. Michelle Lensink would have approached this in a far more sensible way. I have already outlined the significant financial contribution we have made to women and violence towards women. We know that that is about a continuum: on one extreme end we have violence against women and domestic violence, and at the other end we have attitudes that are cultivated around disrespect and devaluing women, and we know that body image is linked to that. We have contributed significant resources and will continue to contribute significant resources to looking after our women and particularly our young girls.