Women's Studies Resource Centre

16 Sep 2010 questionsarchive

I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for the Status of Women a question on the Women's Studies Resource Centre.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I received within the last week a flyer from the Women's Studies Resource Centre entitled 'WSRC needs your help!', and in it the resource centre states that it is the first and largest women's library in the southern hemisphere, comprising a diverse and comprehensive range of more than 20,000 non-fiction and fiction resources by women and/or about women and relating to gender issues. I understand that the centre is primarily an information service for students studying gender-related courses from a range of South Australian and Australian education facilities—public institutions like DECS, TAFE SA and the three South Australian universities. The resource centre also allows the public to link in with South Australia's support services for women, including the Women's Information Service.

The flyer states that as of 1 July 2010 DFEEST is withdrawing its funding of the resource centre, so funds available to run the operation of the service will cease. My questions to the minister are:

1. Is the Office for Women or the Women's Information Service concerned by the vulnerability in which this has left the resource centre?

2. The resource centre has sought support to lobby DFEEST to restore its funding, and has the Office for Women, Women's Information Service or the Premier's Council for Women made any submission to DFEEST about the withdrawal of funding, and, if not, does the minister commit to undertake representations with the Minister for Employment, Training and Further Education about this matter?

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) (14:23): I thank the honourable member for her important question. Indeed the Women's Studies Resource Centre was actually founded around 1975 by women educators. The resource centre was the first women's and feminist library to be established in the southern hemisphere, and it provides resources particularly for students, teachers, lecturers of women's studies, women's education and gender study courses at high school, TAFE and university levels. However, the library is open for all in the community who may want to use it.

I guess it is a reflection of modern technology and the use of the internet, but my advice is that the number of visits to the resource centre have been somewhat on the decline over recent years, which is more likely to be an indication of our technological advances and the way we access information in such a ready way.

However, I understand that the centre is seeking financial assistance to continue its operations and the provision of funding has been an issue for a number of years. Joint funding from the Department of Further Education, Employment, Science and Technology and the Department of Education and Children's Services has been provided to the service, I have been advised, since about 2002 and ceased in June. I also understand that the centre continues to open on a part-time basis with paid and volunteer staff and, unless it receives further funding, it will be able to operate only with the use of those volunteer staff who, I have to say, have provided a very dedicated and diligent service for some time.

I have actively liaised with the Minister for Education and the Minister for Employment, Training and Further Education to secure funding on behalf of the centre and to facilitate discussions regarding its future, and particularly a sustainable future for the service. I am certainly committed to continuing to work towards ensuring that we can reach a satisfactory resolution of this matter so that we can preserve this very valuable resource and, obviously, make that collection available for future generations.