Prime Minister Scott Morrison hosted the first meeting of his cabinet’s women’s taskforce on Tuesday as his government gears up to respond to a landmark harassment report.
Mr Morrison said it was “the largest group of women who have ever been represented in a federal cabinet” and touted accomplishments in the realms of female employment and equal pay.
But he acknowledged there was more to be done.
“As we gather together here in this place, as we often do as a full cabinet with a particular focus and lens on our challenges as a country to ensure that women have at least equal opportunity, at least as much safety, at least as much economic security as men in this country,” Mr Morrison said.
The group was created last week as part of a cabinet reshuffle that came in response to weeks of sustained criticism over the treatment of women in parliament and other workplaces.
Co-chair and Women’s Minister Marise Payne said the first priority would be responding to the Respect@Work report, a sexual harassment review handed down in January last year that made 55 recommendations for how to create safe workplaces.
Among the report’s most significant recommendations is shifting the responsibility of preventing sexual harassment onto employers and away from a system where the burden is on victims to report incidents.
Ms Payne said the work of responding was “well under way in the safe hands of” newly appointed Attorney-General Michaelia Cash.
She said a meeting of a different taskforce for women’s safety would also take place this week, with the aim of developing a national plan for ending violence against women and children.
“What the past two months, though, have underscored for us as a government and as a nation is the depth of the issues that impact women, particularly in relation to violence and harassment, particularly in relation to workplace issues,” Ms Payne said.