One of the privileges of this job is receiving letters from people in our community letting us know what they care about and what’s important to them. Over summer, I was very pleased to receive a letter from Elle, who is an eight-year-old young woman living in Heidelberg in my electorate. Elle wrote to me about how she’d noticed that the pedestrian crossing lights in the area where she lives have only men on them, and Elle suggested to me that that should change so that there were men and women on the lights. Elle, I think it is an excellent suggestion. I will do all I can to take that up and push it along.

But I did want to reflect a bit on the broader piece that you have picked up on there—that you saw only men on the lights. The fact is that, for too many young girls in our community, when they look around, they see symbols of men—they see that the representation does not look like them. So, Elle, I want to tell you: as well as trying to get the lights changed, I want to try to get the broader piece changed as well. I want you to grow up in a world where you have all the opportunities that the boys you are growing up with do. I want you to grow up in a world that is fairer, and I want you to grow up in a world where you are safe.

That is something that our government is very much focused on. We are a government that is doing the piece that changes what people see. We have women in positions of power. We have many female leaders, leading across the spectrum in our government. We have many female MPs in this place. And that is important for girls like Elle and other girls in our community. We are doing the work that sits behind that as well to make sure that this is a fairer community for all. We are working to overcome some of those inequalities, those imbalances, that continue to make it an unfair and unjust place for women in Australia at the moment.

I want to highlight some of the important work we are doing. We are reforming paid parental leave. This will be a really significant change in our community, making it easier for men and women to share caring responsibilities from the very beginning, changing that gender balance that we set up from the very start of a child’s life. We are introducing cheaper child care for 96 per cent of Australian families, including 6,600 in my community of Jagajaga. I know this will be a big benefit for working families, particularly for working women in our community. We are working to close gender gaps—the gender pay gap and the fact that women disproportionately shoulder unpaid work and caring responsibilities. Our National Plan to End Violence against Women and Children has the ambitious goal of ending violence within one generation. It is ambitious, but it is so important because what we have at the moment is unacceptable. Too many women and children are still unsafe. We are providing significant funding for housing, including to support older women at risk of homelessness, and we are doing a lot to fix women’s health and to end medical misogyny.

It’s a huge list. There is a lot to be done, but, Elle, I want to let you know that we are committed to it. Thank you for writing to me.

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