International Women’s Day 2018: how Australian governments are marking it

By David Donaldson

Thursday March 8, 2018

Today is International Women’s Day and governments around Australia are marking it in different ways.

Below we’ve compiled a range of stories about what’s happening around the country.

New South Wales

An extraordinary contribution to regenerative medicine and orthopaedic research in NSW and an unwavering commitment to improving opportunities for women around the world has won Professor Hala Zreiqat the top accolade at the 2018 NSW Women of the Year awards.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Minister for Women Tanya Davies today announced the winners of seven award categories at a breakfast ceremony at the International Convention Centre in Sydney.

Winners in each of the individual categories are:

  • 2018 NSW Premier’s Award for Woman of the Year — Professor Hala Zreiqat
  • 2018 NSW Aboriginal Woman of the Year Award — Carmen Julie Shelley
  • 2018 First State Super Lifetime Achievement Award *new in 2018 — Norma Ingram
  • 2018 Harvey Norman Young Woman of the Year Award — Shaza Rifi
  • 2018 Rex Airlines Regional Woman of the Year Award — Juliet Duffy
  • 2018 Community Hero Award — Dr Raji Ambikairajah
  • 2018 NSW Business Woman of the Year Award — Kristy Chong

In 1999 women comprised 20% of NSW public sector senior executives. Today it’s 37.4%, according to a fact sheet released by the state government ahead of International Women’s Day.


Victoria has launched its first helpline for women seeking timely and trusted information on sexual and reproductive health issues in time for International Women’s Day.

The state government has allotted $1.76 million over four years for Women’s Health Victoria, a not-for-profit, to run 1800 My Options, which will provide Victorians with sexual and reproductive health information, and direct them to clinical services such as contraception, pharmacy services, counselling support, termination providers and a range of other services.

There is also new women’s reproductive health information on the Better Health Channel, a website managed by the Department of Health and Human Services. It provides comprehensive, evidence-based information about women’s sexual and reproductive health.

The state government also announced $670,000 for grants to change attitudes to gender and address family violence through sporting clubs.

“Beyond work and economic security, we are continuing to press for progress for gender equality in all areas where Victorians live, work, learn and play,” said Minister for Women Natalie Hutchins in a statement.

“We know that gender equality does not happen overnight. So this year I encourage you to seize the moment, celebrate, take action and press for progress for women everywhere. The time is now.”

Pathways to politics call for applications

The University of Melbourne’s Pathways to Politics program for women aspiring to public office has also opened for applications for this year’s intake.

Program manager and 2016 fellow Stephanie Amir said a highlight of last year’s program was the opportunity for participants to deliver mock pre-selection speeches to a panel of experienced politicians in the Legislative Assembly at Victoria’s Parliament House.


The official Queensland Women’s Week reception took place last night, with an address by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

The government has announced it will invest $3 million to support Queensland’s female entrepreneurs and promote gender equity among startups.

Innovation Minister Kate Jones said the Advance Queensland Female Founders Program would extend the successful Women’s Academic Fund for female researchers to include funding to support women behind startup ventures.

“There are many women around Queensland leading the way with smart businesses that have global potential but we still have a long way to go when it comes to gender equality,” she said.

“The 2017 StartupAUS Crossroads report revealed only 4% of startups have an all-female founding team and as few as 15% have at least one female founder.”

Minister for Women Di Farmer also announced $140,000 in sponsorship for the inaugural Australian Women in Music Awards to help drive gender equality in the music industry.

Western Australia

Western Australia produced the first woman MP, Edith Cowan, the first female premier, Carmen Lawrence, the first Aboriginal woman in parliament, Carol Martin, and the first woman in the Senate, Dorothy Tangney.

Women’s Interests Minister Simone McGurk has marked the 80th anniversary of the first International Women’s Day event in WA by calling for more to be done to achieve gender equality.

“With economic modelling revealing that gender parity is more than 200 years away, it’s time to #PressforProgress,” she says.

“In many ways we have achieved a lot — but the fact remains that WA still has the worst gender pay gap in the country. Empowering women is not only the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do.”

To highlight the issue, the WA government is running an eight-day social media campaign using the global hashtag #PressforProgress. The campaign will showcase several Western Australian women and an inspiring young girl who speak about what “press for progress” means to them.

The Commonwealth

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar is touring the country as part of the Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women’s Voices) project. It aims to lead a national conversation with Indigenous women and girls to hear their priorities, challenges and aspirations for themselves, their families and their future, giving women and girls around the country a voice. She is in Adelaide today.

The federal government’s website has released a series of stories celebrating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who are making a difference.

Minister for Women Kelly O’Dwyer spoke on Tuesday about inspiring girls to aspire to anything, and progress in the APS. You can read the full story here.


The Apple Isle has a target of women having 50% representation on government boards and committees by July 2020.

Since the release of the Women on Boards Strategy in 2015, government board positions held by women have increased to over 40% — up from 33.8%.

The government will also soon release the Tasmanian Women’s Strategy, says Women’s Minister Jacquie Petrusma, which will focus on four priority areas for action: economic empowerment, leadership, health and wellbeing, and safety.

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