Implementation of the NSW Government’s Women’s Strategy has been revealed as a farce, as the Budget Estimates process shows they can’t even provide bathroom and toilet facilities for all women employed by Fire and Rescue NSW.

The Year One Action Plan of the Berejiklian-Barilaro Government’s Women’s Strategy, which was 8 months overdue, purported to focus on women’s economic participation and empowerment. A key commitment of the Action Plan was a pledge by the NSW Government to encourage women into non-traditional industries and entrepreneurial opportunities.

In addition, the Minister for Emergency Services Troy Grant was recently criticised in a Parliamentary Inquiry for not implementing programs to support women who are recruited into the service after gender quotas were introduced into the highly-competitive recruitment process for NSW Fire and Rescue NSW in December 2016. The introduction of quotas means that 50 percent of all graduating classes will be women.

After Budget Estimates supplementary questions were submitted by NSW Labor, Minister Grant refused to give the number of stations across the state without bathroom facilities for women, although he was forced to admit that “some Fire and Rescue stations would benefit from rectification work in this regard”.

The NSW Labor Opposition says access to bathrooms in Fire and Rescue NSW is a key issue in addressing system discrimination against women at work.

Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for Emergency Services Guy Zangari

“What message is the Government giving when they fail to provide even basic facilities like bathrooms to women? The Minister just needed to identify how many stations were impacted, but he’s just dodged the question altogether.

“Women Fire Fighters and Rescue Workers put their lives on the line for people across NSW every day, and this Minister can’t even be bothered to provide them with proper bathroom facilities.

“The Minister needs to be accountable for the way his department is failing its women employees.

“This isn’t the first time this issue has been raised with the Government, so you have to wonder why they still haven’t addressed it.”

Quotes attributable to Acting Shadow Minister for Women Jenny Aitchison

“All women deserve the same level of amenities as their male counterparts. It’s pretty basic. How else can we encourage women into non-traditional roles?

“The Berejiklian Barilaro Government says it is trying to encourage women into non-traditional roles; surely they’ve worked out they have to provide them with proper bathroom facilities!

“The Liberals and Nationals say they want to double the number of women tradies within five years but hasn’t bothered to themselves provide essential services for women in our emergency services.

“This is the legacy of the deep-seated culture of misogyny within the Coalition. The Berejiklian-Barilaro Government has failed women at all levels - in their party, in their cabinet and now at the heart of emergency services, to provide a level playing field for women in NSW.”

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