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Leader’s words reinforce case for national trial of WCA’s model

The Placement Circle
Some people have made a career of assessing and creating evidence-based policies in the public interest.

Some people have made a career of assessing and creating evidence-based policies in the public interest. The Hon Dr Kay Patterson AO, who ended her seven-year term as Age Discrimination Commissioner at the end of July, is one of them.

She’s also a wonderful champion for WomenCAN Australia, because for the past few years she’s seen up close the work we do and the results it brings.

It’s as simple as that. What we do works. Dr Patterson has seen the evidence. The logical thing is to trial the model widely, with a view to rolling it out nationally.

Before her time on the Human Rights Commission in that policy, advocacy, and oversight role, Dr Patterson spent more than 20 years in the Senate, working on public policy.

She was recently back in Parliament, this time in the House of Representatives, testifying before a committee of inquiry into Australia’s $13.7 employment services sector.

She chose to talk about WomenCAN Australia.

Here’s part of what she said:

I’m aware you know about WomenCAN. I’ve been working with them closely over the last couple of years. They’ve only been going for, I think, 3 1⁄2 years. I would love to see the work they’re doing extended nationally. They’ve taken the approach of putting services around people, especially people who might never otherwise have done TAFE, and providing peer support.

They’re funding that through social enterprise. I would love to see some research that says, ‘If you’ve got someone who’s been on unemployment benefits or on some sort of benefit, if they get an ongoing long-term job, when do you actually catch up from the saving?

Dr Patterson’s question is fundamental. And we’re doing the analysis on the fiscal, economic, family, and community benefits of our ‘earn and learn’, free training, peer-supported, employer-backed programs. All the details are on our website, of course.

The House of Representatives inquiry has approached WomenCAN Australia to make a submission, an invitation we’re delighted to accept. We have been doing the numbers on the fiscal benefit of our program – which take a woman from JobSeeker and/or another allowance into the taxpaying workforce – and will present the case for exactly what Dr Patterson suggested and for which we will be advocating at the inquiry, directly to lawmakers, and through the media.

We will show everyone wins when our model is applied. Women get free training, support, jobs, and financial independence. Registered training organisations get students. Employers get skilled, loyal staff. Families get stronger. Economies get boosted. Communities get energy. Taxpayers stand to save tens of millions of dollars a year.

It’s the sort of thing the House of Representatives ought to be thrilled to hear, and keen to give bipartisan support.

You can see Dr Patterson’s full remarks here.


And here’s the inquiry’s website.

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