Victoria’s landmark gender equality laws to improve workplaces

By Naomi Neilson|26 November 2019

Landmark laws are being introduced to Victoria to hold workplaces responsible for the treatment of women and ensure they are afforded the opportunities they deserve.

The Andrews Labor government announced the “Australian-first” Gender Equality Bill, which is due to be introduced into Victorian parliament this week. The bill is part of the plan to deliver on key election commitments to make “once-in-a-generation reform”.

The minister for women Gabrielle Williams welcomed the Gender Equality Bill: “We’re making history and making gender equality non-negotiable by law – because it is 2019 and women and girls deserve to have every opportunity to succeed.”

Ms Williams added the bill will mean Victorian workplaces will be now required to put gender equality “front and centre where it belongs”.

The Gender Equality Bill will mean public service organisations, universities and local councils will be required by law to publicly report on their progress in ensuring there is appropriate treatment of women, such as equal pay and sexual harassment protection.

They will also be required to challenge workplace discrimination by preparing Gender Equality Action Plans and undertaking gender impact statements.

The Victorian government revealed three in 10 employers are still without any flexible working arrangements, despite one in two mothers reporting discrimination as a result of their pregnancy, parental leave or on their return to work.

In 2015 and 2016, the average superannuation balances for women aged 60-64 years were 58 per cent lower than those of men the same age. Australia’s gender pay gap is still 14.1 per cent and Victorian women are doing 63 per cent of unpaid work.

More than 300 organisations and about 11 per cent of the Victorian workforce will now be covered by the new gender equality legislation.

“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,” Ms Williams said.

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Victoria’s landmark gender equality laws to improve workplaces
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