Victoria has just made history, passing the country’s first ever state-based Gender Equality Act and establishing new standards for equity and equality in the state.
The Andrews Labor Government’s Gender Equality Bill 2019 has passed through the Parliament and marks a major legislative push to address workplace gender barriers and gender discrimination.
The Act aim to ensure that workplaces publicly report on their gender equality progress whilst also implementing gender equality action plans.
The Act will also see a number of equity measures established, including gender targets in the public service, universities and local government. It will also see monitoring systems established to investigate performance in things like flexible work, pregnancy, parental leave and superannuation in public organisations.
— Gender Equity Victoria (@genderequityvic) February 20, 2020
Victoria’s Minister for Women Gabrielle Williams described the Bill as a “once in a generation opportunity” to influence policy, social norms, cultural expectations and attitudes across the state.
“This Bill is a key mechanism in improving the lives of women and all Victorians, ensuring employers of almost 380,000 Victorians in our public sector, councils and universities, take real action to progress gender equality,” she said.
“This Bill ensures that Victoria will continue to lead the country when it comes to improving gender equality – so that people of all genders are able to enjoy equal rights, opportunities, responsibilities and outcomes.”
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The Gender Equality Bill is now law and here are just a few of the faces who made it happen. Thank you to all those who participated in consultations and had their voices heard, and to all those who worked tirelessly on the detail and practicalities. Gender equality benefits everybody. That’s why we are enacting these laws.
GEN VIC CEO Tanja Kovac (pictured above) has described it as nothing short of significant.
“In the last 24 hours we’ve seen yet another violent death of a woman, Hannah Clarke, and her children.
“Gender equality is essential, not just to prevent violence against men, women and children, but to the future of Victoria’s economy. The economic potential of women can only be unlocked by addressing the challenges of the gender pay gap and parenthood penalties.” said Ms Kovac.
“We endorse the strategy of setting targets in a range of settings. Setting gender targets is a proven success tool in advancing equality. It is used by organisations all over the world – from the International Monetary Fund to AirBnB to AGL Energy – to create more inclusive, flexible workplaces. Targets improve the lives of men, women and children” said Kovac.
Under the Bill, public sector organisations, universities and locals councils will be required to develop and implement Gender Equality Action Plans every four years, reporting on the current state of gender equality in their organisations and the strategies they are pursuing to achieve it.
The Bill will also see a Public Sector Gender Equality Commissioner put in place to independently oversee reforms, along with educating, monitoring progress and ensuring compliance.
The Bill follows an extensive state-wide consultation progress held over the past four years.