The Victorian government has announced it will establish a gender-responsive budgeting unit as part of its 2021/22 state budget, in a move that is widely considered an important step towards gender equality.
The gender responsive budgeting unit will be within the Department of Treasury and Finance and will embed gender impact analysis in the government’s budget decision making process. The unit essentially ensures outcomes for women are specifically measured as part of all budget decisions.
Lead economist at Equity Economics Angela Jackson said the establishment of the gender responsive budgeting unit is critical for women’s equity.
“This many seem like a small announcement and won’t get the attention of the big ticket items in the #VicBudget2021 BUT it is critical to the march towards equity,” Jackson wrote on Twitter.
“The Victorian government will know how its decision impact men and women differently.”
This may seem like a small announcement and won’t get the attention of the big ticket items in the #VicBudget2021 BUT it is critical to the march towards equity.— Angela Jackson (@EconomistAnge) May 20, 2021
The Victorian government will know how all its decisions impact men and women differently. #crediblewomen #ausecon https://t.co/S0qYEGmM9c
The government said the unit is part of their approach to providing dedicated support to improve outcomes for Victorian women.
“This includes embedding gender impact analysis in the Government’s budget decision-making through a brand new gender responsive budgeting unit – continuing Victoria’s nation-leading approach to advancing gender equality,” the gender equality budget statement said.
The Victorian government also announced a range of measures targeted towards improving outcomes for women, including increased funding for women’s health services, the creation of 47,000 jobs in the care economy, funding for the prevention of family violence, and funds to boost women’s economic participation.
In health, the government promised $6.5 million for new and existing sexual and reproductive health hubs, $70 million for public IVF services and nearly $7 million for community perinatal health teams.
Dr Sue Matthews, chief executive of The Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne, said the budget recognised the health needs of women in Victoria.
“The funding for new and existing sexual and reproductive health hubs will provide greater choice to women and girls to access services such as abortion and contraception care that are safe, evidence-based and timely,” Dr Matthews said.
“Equally pleasing to see is the investment in family violence prevention and response; it is an issue we see first-hand at our hospitals, and we know we as health professionals have a role to play in supporting those who feel unsafe.”
Dr Adele Murdolo, executive director of the Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health said the budget delivered positive outcomes for migrant and refugee women in Victoria, by providing a pathway to economic and wellbeing recovery post-pandemic.
“There were significant impacts of the COVID-19 lockdown on so many migrant and refugee women, including poorer mental health, job loss, financial disadvantage and increased risk of family violence,” Dr Murdolo said.
“This budget promises to significantly build the workforces of care industries, creating employment for women, and enhancing the quality of care.”
Tanja Kovac, CEO of Gender Equity Victoria said she was pleased to see many priority areas addressed in the budget.
“A good start has been made for Women’s Health Services and we’re pleased to see the creation of 47,000 jobs in the care economy where the majority of employees are women,” Kovac said.