Victoria’s Gender Equality Act (2020) is the first of its kind in Australia and demonstrates a leading commitment by the Victorian Government to systemic and structural reform in Gender Equality. Guided by Victoria’s Gender Equality Commissioner Dr Niki Vincent, defined entities (public sector organisations of 50 employees or more) are required to meet a number of obligations that demonstrate their intent to advance equality and diversity in their workplaces, including undertaking Gender Workplace Audits, Gender Impact Assessments and the development of 4-year Gender Equality Action Plans (GEAPs).
WHLM is a member of the Action for Gender Equality Partnership (AGEP), a panel of gender experts approved by the Commission for Gender Equality in the Public Sector to support organisations to meet their GE Act obligations. WHLM has provided support to a number of defined entities in this work, including the Victorian Institute of Sport, Heathcote Health and, through the chairing of the Champions of Change network, Rochester Elmore District Health Service, Echuca Regional Health and Kyabram District Health.
WHLM work has sought to ensure defined entities
- understand the importance of intersectional gender equality and diversity in their workplace
- are able to identify where change is needed
- understand the barriers and plan and implement actions that will achieve progress.
In order to undertake this work in a way that is meaningful and effective, we recommend organisations
- Get to know the landscape
- Utilise the extensive resources on the Office for Gender Equality in the Public Sector website
- Establish a gender equality working group to lead GE Act work within their organisation
- Develop strategic partnerships and networks
- Commit to productivity in this space
- Create opportunities to meaningfully consult with staff including workforce, ELT and Board.
- Expect and prepare for resistance. This is normal and to be expected and is a positive sign that change is happening.
Establishing a baseline:
The Commission for Gender Equality in the Public Sector recently released Victoria’s first baseline data report, highlighting key findings from the first round of Gender Audits completed by defined entities at the end of 2021. This data provides a transparent starting point from which organisations will be able to measure their progress toward achieving gender equality over time.
Intersectionality was a key focus for the Commission:
- Recognising there is work to be done to better understand and address how other forms of disadvantage and discrimination intersect with gender inequality.
- A separate report presenting intersectional insights will be released by the Commissioner in early 2023, along with recommendations from the intersectional research the commission has undertaken through 2022.
- Although there is a lot of room for growth and progress, it is also clear that there is a growing desire for real and meaningful change in the gender equality space.
The commission has captured the key findings of the Baseline Data Report in the summary below:
A summary of recommendations can be found here: https://www.genderequalitycommission.vic.gov.au/baseline-audit-report-2021/executive-summary