New Australian women leaders foundation to be led by ABC TV news presenter

By on 21/09/2016
Virginia Haussegger a TV news presenter for ABC, Australia’s public broadcaster, will present her last ABC bulletin in October

TV news presenter Virginia Haussegger has quit the ABC, Australia’s public broadcaster, to lead a new foundation dedicated to getting more women into senior government and public sector roles in Australia.

Haussegger, who has worked in media for 30 years, will join the University of Canberra’s 50/50 by 2030 Foundation as director in November this year.

Based within the university’s Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis, the foundation will conduct research, develop training modules and carry out gender audits on a consultancy basis.

Haussegger said she was chomping at the bit to get into her new role, and that progress on gender equality in leadership roles over the past 20 years had been nowhere near what she had hoped it would be.

“The fact we are so far into the 21st century and women are so poorly represented in positions of power and public power is just extraordinary.

“It’s not an issue of fairness, it’s just good management, common sense and a much better outcome for policymakers, for government, for political parties if women are equally at the top table,” she said, as reported by the Canberra Times.

Women outnumber men in the Australian public service, but only made up 42% of the senior executive service last year. As of 2015 there were twice as many men as women in senior roles in many states, including Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. Just 31% of federal parliamentarians were female in 2015, while women made up 39% of federal government boards.

But just this month, newly elected chief minister of the Northern Territory government Michael Gunner revealed his majority female cabinet. Five out of eight ministers are female, the highest proportion of women ever in an Australian state government.

Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull called for “more leadership to be shown on gender equality” in public service during an address to 800 public servants in April this year. Speaking in parliament in Canberra, he urged managers to offer more flexible working options and to prioritise work/life balance.

This address came a few days before the launch of the Australian public service gender equality strategy 2016-19, which aims to increase take-up of flexible working practices by both men and women, and to foster a supportive workplace culture in public service.

Haussegger, who will present her last ABC bulletin in October, was made a member of the order of Australia in 2014 for her advocacy for women’s rights.

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See also:

Australia’s finance department secretary Jane Halton resigns

Bank of England deputy governor quits for LSE role

Women leaders top priority for UK’s incoming civil service commissioner

Research tracks gender equality among G20 officials

 

About Tamsin Rutter

Tamsin Rutter is a journalist based in Brussels, Belgium. She writes on a variety of topics, including public services, cities, local and central government and education. She was formerly the deputy editor of the Guardian’s Public Leaders Network and Housing Network.

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