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Media Release: Albanese Government funds Working Women’s Centres across the country

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The Albanese Government funds Working Women’s Centres across the country.

Working Women’s Centres (WWC) have been funded in every state and territory to assist women who are experiencing sexual harassment, discrimination and other workplace issues.

The Albanese Government has funded established centres (South Australia, Queensland and Northern Territory) and women’s legal centres, community legal centres, unions and workers’ compensation services to establish centres in Western Australia, Victoria, New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania.

Newly established WWCs are set to commence operations and will shortly provide free and confidential support to women seeking information, support and advice about workplace issues, with a focus on sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace.

The funding responds to Recommendation 49 of the Respect@Work report which stated:

Australian governments provide increased and recurrent funding to Working Women’s Centres to provide information, advice, and assistance to vulnerable workers who experience sexual harassment.

The Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Kate Jenkins, in her Respect@ Work Report recognised the unique holistic support provided by Working Women’s Centres: “We found they were uniquely the most effective, victim-centric model that could deliver support, advice [and] advocacy to women [across a] range of issues in their work.”

The established South Australian, Northern Territory and Queensland WWCs have been fighting for ongoing and expanded funding for decades and excitingly welcome the expansion of the WWC network.

WWCs provide crucial legal, education and advocacy services to women who are experiencing workplace issues, predominately sexual harassment and discrimination. Legal advice and representation for working women and representation is free, confidential and trauma informed.

Centres will also undertake important work to prevent sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace by providing workplace training and community education to assist employers to create safe workplaces.

WWCs have always worked in partnership with the women’s movement, trade unions, all levels of government and legal providers to assist women who fall through the cracks. This new funding will strengthen these relationships nationwide.

The already established South Australian, Northern Territory and Queensland WWCs have been funded to expand their services.
The following services have been funded to establish Centres in:

• NSW – Women’s Legal Services
• WA – Women’s Legal Services in partnership with Circle Green Community Legal Centre
• TAS- Women’s Legal Services in partnership with Work Assist Tasmania
• ACT – Women’s Legal Services in partnership with Unions ACT.
• VIC – South East Monash Legal in consortium with West Justice, Northern Community Legal Centre and Women’s Legal Services.

Working Women’s Centre Australia (National Body)
The Albanese Government has also funded the South Australian Working Women’s Centre to establish the National Body, Working Women’s Centre Australia which will lead and coordinate advocacy, research and contributions to policy debates about systemic issues effecting working women.

Abbey Kendall, former Director of the South Australian Working Women’s Centre has been appointed the WWC Australia CEO.

State and Territory Services
Media contacts in each state and territory can be contacted to discuss local WWC Centres and their operations.

Quotes Attributable to Abbey Kendall, WWC Australia CEO:
“For 45 years, Working Women’s Centres have been a voice for Australian women. This funding is an opportunity to build, extend and expand our impact in all states and territories and improve the lives of Working Women across the country.”

“Working Women’s centres are an industrial safety net for working women who fall through the cracks. Our holistic model of service has been nationally recognised in the Respect@Work report and this new funding will allow us to reach more women and help create safer workplaces for everyone. ”
“The government’s investment in Working Women’s Centres fosters a more equitable and inclusive society where every woman can thrive. By supporting women in the workforce, we unlock their full potential, driving economic growth and social progress for the benefit of all.”

Quotes Attributable to Katrina Ironside Women’s Legal Services NSW CEO”
Women’s Legal Service NSW has provided legal services to working women for more than 20 years, enhancing women’s economic security and moving the dial on gender equality. We have provided free specialist legal help to working women who have been forced to endure sexual harassment and discrimination at work, as well as undertaking systemic advocacy in support of women’s rights at work.

We are delighted to have been recognised for this work by being funded to establish the new Working Women’s Centre in NSW. The funding will ensure women’s safety and economic security as working women. This is the only gender-specific trauma informed service for working women in NSW.

We look forward to being able to assist more women to stand up for their right to a safe workplace.

Quotes attributable to Dr Jennie Gray, Women’s Legal Service WA CEO
“Women’s Legal Service WA is excited to be partnering with Circle Green to deliver the inaugural Working Women’s Centre in Western Australia. Our collaboration leverages our expertise in both the provision of gender specific legal services and employment law.”

“The establishment of a Centre in Western Australia’s has been long awaited. We are looking forward to delivering services to improve outcomes for women with workplace issues that reflect this state’s geography, scale and industries.”

Quotes Attributable to Kristen Wallwork, Executive Director South-East Monash Legal Service Victoria:
“The establishment of Working Women Centre Victoria marks a significant milestone in addressing the needs of women across Victoria,” said Kristen Wallwork, Executive Director of SMLS. “Our consortium combines the expertise of four leading organisations committed to advancing gender equity and justice in the workplace. The consortium looks forward to collaborating closely with our local partners to deliver impactful services, and with the Working Women’s Centre National Body to drive positive change,”

Quotes Attributable to Eloise Dalton – Working Women Queensland Director, part of Basic Rights Queensland

“We currently provide services to over 1000 women each year. This funding means we can continue to provide critical services to women who have nowhere else to turn when faced with sexual harassment, discrimination, bullying and underpayments. The existing and newly established Centres will play a crucial role in advocating for the rights and well-being of women in the workforce.”

Quotes attributable to Nicki Petrou, Director NT WWC
“After many years, we are pleased to see some funding security and recognition of the value that Working Women’s Centres provide to working women, the community, including the unique challenges involving working and delivering services in remote, regional, rural locations. This enables us to now get on with vital work addressing poor employment practices both individually and systemically and continue to provide a safe place for women to seek our support.

Existing Working Women’s Centres have worked collaboratively, advocating for sustainable funding including for a national peak body. We are excited to see this vision realised and look forward to working with the new Working Women’s Centres. We appreciate the Federal Government’s commitment to implementing the Respect@Work report recommendations, and the work of the former Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Kate Jenkins and her team in relation to this landmark report and support.”

Quotes attributable to Nikki Candy, Interim Director of SA WWC
“We are so pleased to grow the WWC network and increase our impact across the country. Working Women’s Centre’s are an institution for working women, and our service has been life changing for many South Australian women. We look forward to expanding our education and workplace training services to ensure that we are providing workplace education to workplaces in small to medium enterprise, in high-risk industries and to those who need it the most.”

Quote attributable to Yvette Cehtel, Women’s Legal Services Tasmania CEO”
“Women’s Legal Service Tasmania (WLST) and Worker Assist Tasmania are excited to be launching a Working Women’s Centre in Tasmania through WLST. This will mean women in Tasmania will have access to legal assistance covering sexual harassment, employment law, discrimination and workers compensation, accessible in one place.

The legal assistance will be supplemented with integrated social support from a social worker and a financial counsellor. Part of the offering will also be the rolling out of training and workshops targeting employers to improve safety at work.

WLST and Worker Assist Tasmania are currently recruiting for these positions.”

Media Contacts

WWC Australia
Abbey Kendall, CEO of Working Women’s Centres Australia
08 8410 6499
M- 0412454900

South Australia
Nikki Candy, Interim WWC SA Director
08 8410 6499
Eloise Dalton – Director of Working Women’s Queensland
07 3421 2505

Northern Territory
Nicki Petrou – WWC NT Director
(08) 8981 0655

Western Australia
Dr Jennie Gray CEO of Women’s Legal Services
0427 017 467

New South Wales
Katrina Ironside Women’s Legal Service NSW CEO
(02) 8745 6900

Yvette Cehtel CEO Women’s Legal Service Tasmania
(03) 6231 9466

South-East Monash Legal Service Inc – consortium arrangement
Kristen Wallwork (Executive Director)
(03) 9545 7400

Australian Capital Territory
Elena Rosenman Women’s Legal Services ACT CEO
(02) 6257 4377

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