TIERNEY (Western Victoria) — My question is to the Minister for Industrial
Relations, Mr Pakula. Can the minister advise the house of any recent successful
initiatives that demonstrate the Brumby government’s commitment to fair
M. P. PAKULA (Minister for Industrial Relations) — I thank Ms Tierney for
her question and for what I know is her lifelong commitment to fair workplaces.
I want — —
Mr Dalla-Riva interjected.
The PRESIDENT — Order! I advise Mr Dalla-Riva that I am
particularly interested in hearing this answer. He may not be, but I am.
Hon. M. P. PAKULA — Mr Dalla-Riva still appears not to
understand the difference between question time and the adjournment debate, but
we will make that a matter for another day.
At the outset I want to reaffirm the government’s commitment to
fair workplaces. It is true to say that in Victoria there is a group of workers
that we believe, and the community in general believes, still needs significant
assistance to operate in a fair workplace. Of course I am referring in
particular to clothing outworkers. As members might know, clothing outworkers
are predominantly women from non-English-speaking backgrounds who work under
very poor conditions, have long hours of work, have very low rates of pay and in
effect have no job security.
In 2003 the government introduced the Outworkers (Improved
Protection) Act as a way of providing increased protection to outworkers in
The aim of that act was to improve the protection of clothing
outworkers, to help resolve uncertainty about their job status, to classify them
as employees and to provide them with entitlement to all the protections
afforded to other employees. The act provided for a review five years after it
received royal assent, and that review was tabled in the Parliament in May this
year. It showed that the act has been effective in ensuring that protections
exist for outworkers in Victoria. Importantly it also showed that Victorian
government information service officers have been absolutely invaluable in
assisting Victorian outworkers and providing them with training and
opportunities in other industries that they might seek to move into.
I was privileged to attend the graduation of 11 outworkers who
had recently completed a child-care training course.
Those 11 outworkers have had the opportunity to transform their
lives from making clothes in their homes for as little as perhaps $5 an hour to
training for an occupation which offers them better conditions and better
opportunities and which is also essential for their local community. Those
outworkers have now graduated from a nationally recognised certificate III
course in children’s services that will assist in meeting the demand for
child-care workers and family day care workers in the south-eastern suburbs.
Honourable members interjecting.
Hon. M. P. PAKULA — I assume Mrs Peulich would be interested
in that benefit for her local community.
It is a project which was also supported by the Chisholm
Institute of TAFE and by the City of Greater Dandenong.
Those graduates, who had previously been making clothes in
their garages or in the back rooms of their homes, will now be able to
contribute to their local community in an area of endeavour which is absolutely
desperate for their skills.
This group of workers is following in the footsteps of other
outworkers who were recruited for retraining under a pilot program in 2004-05.
Since then almost 100 outworkers have been trained to become hospitality
workers, retail workers, child-care workers, pattern makers and designers under
what has been a very successful job creation program. It is a very successful
program, and it is just one example of how the Brumby Labor government has a
commitment to ensuring that every Victorian employee has the right and the
ability to expect a fair workplace and better opportunities in life.