The State Government has today announced two new initiatives to create safer and more inclusive workplaces for women. The State Government is investing $3 million to establish a new TAFE scholarship program to attract women into occupations that are traditionally male-dominated and assist with covering their training costs and other associated expenses.
The scholarships would be available for a range of STEM, building and construction occupations with female workforce participation of less than 25 per cent to increase pathways for women to higher-paying jobs. Broadening recent efforts to address health and safety issues impacting women in the mining industry, a new Women's Workplace Safety Hub is now available for all industries. The online hub provides contemporary information and resources for both women who are experiencing workplace harassment and employers looking for resources to prevent harassment in their workplace, including what constitutes sexual harassment, how to make a complaint, and where to go if you are in need of immediate assistance and support.
For International Women's Day 2023, Premier Mark McGowan and Women's Interests Minister Sue Ellery today joined construction industry leaders to highlight how safe and inclusive workplaces are key to encouraging more women to enter and stay in construction and other traditionally male-dominated industries that are currently crying out for workers. WA has the highest gender pay gap in Australia, partly due to occupational segregation in high-paying industries such as construction and mining.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 2022 women made up just 18 per cent of the building and construction industry's workforce, while they make up a significantly lower proportion of those in trades. This year's theme for International Women's Day is 'Cracking the Code' to highlight how innovation, inclusive technologies and accessible education can combat discrimination and marginalisation of women around the world. In recent years, there have been significant increases in women taking up publicly funded TAFE course enrolments across many areas of industry, including construction.
The number of female apprentices in training in building and construction trades has grown by 228 per cent. The State Government today also launched its Stronger Together Annual Progress Report, providing the latest update on programs and actions progressed since Stronger Together: WA's Plan for Gender Equality was launched in March 2020. One of the key actions identified in the report has now been achieved, with 50 per cent of WA public service Senior Executive Services (SES) contracts now held by women - up from 33 per cent in 2018.
To visit the Department of Communities' new Women's Workplace Safety Hub go to: Women's Workplace Safety Information and Resources Hub
Read the Stronger Together Annual Progress Report 2022 here: Stronger Together – WA's Plan for Gender Equality
Premier Mark McGowan said "We need to ensure women and girls have more opportunities to access education and training pathways to careers in technology, engineering and science and higher-paying occupations in industries like building and construction. There has been a concerted effort to achieve parity in WA's public service, and I am pleased to have reached the key milestone of 50 per cent women in senior executive positions in a much shorter timeframe than was originally forecast. There is of course more to do, and our new scholarship program and workplace safety hub build on the significant work my Government has already undertaken to achieve this."
Women's Interests Minister Sue Ellery added "International Women's Day is a time to reflect on the gains we have made in the push for gender equality, and recognise that there is still much to do. While progress has been made, barriers still exist for women entering male-dominated industries, including higher rates of sexual harassment. We want to see more women putting their hand up to work in trades, and high-paying occupations they haven't even considered to be an option before. The new Women's Workplace Safety Hub builds on existing work to respond to the recommendations of the Enough is Enough report and will play an important role in breaking down the barriers that exist for women in all workplaces, particularly those in male-dominated industries. The McGowan Government is committed to driving gender equality in Western Australia, and we need employers' support to ensure women are safe at work and not being shut out of new opportunities."
Training Minister Simone McGurk added "As a government we want to send a clear message that women can - and should - get into traditionally male-dominated roles. Industry needs the skills women have to offer and we know that women want good jobs. The TAFE scholarship program will help break down the financial barriers that may discourage women from reaching for their full potential. There are some challenges recruiting right now and it makes sense to do everything we can to attract more women into these high-paying jobs. Women who take on these roles can face significant challenges, and we need to throw our support behind them so they continue to pave the way for others."