New legislation edges Victoria closer to gender equality

After passing through Victorian Parliament in 2019, the Gender Equality Act 2020 (Act) represents a landmark step in breaking down discrimination and gender barriers in the workplace.

The Act is an Australian first and represents a once in a generation opportunity to influence policy, social norms, cultural expectations and attitudes across Victoria.

This legislation was enacted on 25 February 2020 and will commence on 31 March 2021, giving organisations enough time to understand, prepare for and meet their obligations.

The Act applies to around 300 organisations that have 50 or more employees, including:

  • Public service bodies
  • Public entities
  • Special bodies
  • Local government
  • Universities
  • Court Services Victoria
  • The Office of Public Prosecutions.

The Act requires four key actions from required organisations:

  1. Perform a Workplace Gender Audit.
  2. Develop a Gender Equality Action Plans based on the results of the Workplace Gender Audit.
  3. Perform Gender Impact Assessments when developing or reviewing any policy of, or program or service provided by, the entity that has a direct and significant impact on the public.
  4. Report to the Gender Equality Commissioner every two years (commencing two years post the endorsement of the Gender Equity Action Plan) on the implementation of the Gender Equality Action Plan and Gender Impact Assessments performed in the previous two years.

The use of targets and quotas will be introduced in the future, allowing for the ability to measure and track progress towards gender equality.

The Act will be overseen by the Public Sector Gender Equality Commissioner, an independent body who will monitor the progress and promote and advance the objectives of the Act. Along with improved results in the workforce, the Victorian community is also expected to benefit through improved policies, programs and services.

Katie Dempster

Please contact Katie Dempster, Internal Audit Manager on 03 5443 0344 for further information. You can also refer to the Victorian Government’s Gender Equality Act 2020 webpage.