Women’s Health East Response to Gender Equality Legislation

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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.

Our Feedback

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.
1. Principles
We are in support of the Gender Equality Principles outlined in the legislation.
2. Scope
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.
Recommendations:
 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