New Gender Equality Act in Victoria
Victoria has the country’s first ever state-based Gender Equality Act.
The Andrews Labor Government’s Gender Equality Bill 2019 passed through the Parliament on 20 February 2020, and marks a major legislative push to address workplace gender barriers and gender discrimination.
The Gender Equality Bill requires 300 employers, including public service, councils, universities and TAFEs, Victoria Police, Court Services Victoria and the Office of Public Prosecutions, to publicly report on their progress on gender equality targets every two years.
Public sector organisations will be required to create gender equality action plans and report equal pay, sexual harassment and equal opportunity career progression practices. Gender impact assessments will also be a requirement.
The impending law aims to help bridge Australia’s 14.1 per cent pay gap, as well as increase opportunities for men to work flexibly, while removing barriers to career progression for women. Currently, Victorian women are doing 63 per cent of the state’s unpaid work.
As it stands, about 11 per cent of Victoria’s workforce will be covered by the legislation.
A new body will be established to measure employers’ performance on gender equality measures, develop targets and take action on those who fail to meet standards. Victorian Minister for Women Gabrielle Williams says the Gender Equality Bill is history-making.
“We’re making gender equality a non-negotiable by law – because it’s 2019 and women and girls deserve every opportunity to succeed,” Williams said. “These changes will mean many Victorian workforces will be required to put gender equality front and centre where it belongs.”
“We know we won’t reach gender equality overnight, but this is an important step in the cultural change we’re working hard to drive.”
Read about our IMAGINE project which aims to develop novel approaches for measuring gender equality in Australia. This will facilitate research into the effects of gender equality on health and socio-economic outcomes.