Why we support the legislation
Violence against women is one of the most serious and pervasive issues affecting women, families, communities and society. In Australia, over half of all women have experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. Violence by an intimate partner is the leading contributor to death, disability and ill-health for women aged 18–44.
Violence against women is preventable. Global evidence shows that gender inequality is a key driver of VAW. To end this violence, TFER aims to achieve a long term, whole of population approach, with mutually reinforcing action across all levels of society.
The World Health Organisation has identified social position as the factor that most determines health inequities, and discrimination based on gender as one of the key factors influencing social position. This makes gender equality an essential focus of effective population health practice and government policy.
We are highly supportive of the development of gender equality legislation and congratulate the government on this important initiative. We strongly support the intent of the legislation to enshrine requirements to enact positive change towards gender equality and to raise the status of women.
We have highlighted below some areas that we think are important to the development and successful implementation of this legislation. Some of our recommendations relate to the Bill itself and others to actions that will support its implementation.
We are in support of the Gender Equality Principles outlined in the legislation.
While we understand the rationale for targeting the legislation at Victorian government departments, local governments, and public sector entities with over 100 full time employees (in line with WGEA reporting) we suggest broadening the scope in order to maximise the impact of the legislation. We are highly supportive of the proposal over time to extend the reach of the legislation through the introduction of gender- ethical procurement guidelines.
Make the legislation applicable to entities with over 50 full time employees
Create incentives for organisations outside of the scope of the legislation to voluntarily take up the option of developing Gender Equality Action Plans eg through grants or awards
Change the wording in the Procurement guidelines section (Div 4, 13) to state that the Finance Minister will issue procurement guidelines (to replace current working which says the Minister may issue procurement guidelines).
Bring forward the timelines for the procurement guidelines from mid 2022 to one year after commencement of the legislation
Submission to The Human Rights Commission’s inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces – February 2019
This submission has been developed by Women’s Health East on behalf of the The Together
for Equality & Respect Partnership Leadership Group. We welcome the opportunity to
provide a submission into the inquiry into sexual harassment in Australia Workplaces.
Highlighted findings of the forth national survey on sexual harassment in Australian workplaces
Women are significantly more likely than men to have experienced sexual
harassment over their lifetime (39% compared to 26%)
It is clear that those who identify as LGBTIQ (52%), or who have a disability (44%), or
are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander (53%) experience higher rates of sexual
harassment in the workplace.
The rates for Aboriginal women were slightly higher than those of men (55%
compared to 50%)
The rates for women with a disability were higher than those of men (52% compared
Women who were lower income earners were more likely to experience sexual
harassment than men (60% compared to 48%), and this is significantly higher than
those who earned higher incomes (39% for low income compared to 30% for higher
The gender gap in harassment experienced across dominant occupations ranges
from 2-8%, with the most significant gender gap for clerical and office workers (11%
male, 19% female)
Both male and female victims experienced significantly higher rates of harassment
from male perpetrators.
Recommendations for the inquiry into sexual harassment in Australian workplaces
1. The inquiry should frame sexual harassment as a form of gender-based
violence/violence against women, and thus seek to address gendered
harassment/discrimination in its prevention.
2. The inquiry should take an intersectional approach to the prevention of sexual
harassment, and recognise the effects of compounding experiences of
3. The inquiry should advocate for organisational gender equity legislation, and
advocate for whole of organisation change for gender equity in order to prevent
4. The enquiry should develop a victim centric model of reporting, which seeks to
minimise traumatisation during and after reporting. This model of reporting should
be informed by the voices of victim survivors to ensure that it is a model which
adequately supports, protects and empowers victims.