Victorian Parliament passes historic Gender Equality Bill

On Friday, 21 February 2020 the Victorian Government made history, passing the Gender Equality Bill. First introduced to Parliament in November 2019, the Bill aims to improve gender equality across the public sector, universities and local councils.

The passing of this Bill is significant because of its greater impact on the rights of women and other marginalised communities in Victoria. As the Bill states, ‘all human beings, regardless of gender, should be free to develop their personal abilities, pursue their professional careers and make choices about their lives without being limited by gender stereotypes, gender roles or prejudices.’

What does the Bill aim to do?

In understanding the purpose of this Bill, we need to look at what it really means when it states ‘gender equality’ and question who will it be protecting?

When we think gender equality, we tend to think of equal rights for women and girls. However, this Bill states that ‘gender equality benefits all Victorians regardless of gender.’ It also recognises that gender inequality is linked to other forms of disadvantage and/or discrimination a person may experience based on ethnicity, age, ability,  gender identity, race, religion and sexual orientation.

By identifying these often intersecting forms of discrimination, the Bill then aims to eliminate the systemic causes of gender inequality in policy, programs and delivery of services in workplaces and communities.

Who does the Bill apply to?

The Bill applies to the following organisations:

  • public service bodies
  • public entities
  • local government
  • universities
  • Court Services Victoria
  • the Office of Public Prosecutions special bodies
  • local government and
  • universities

From this list, it means that there are over 300 organisations that will be covered by the bill.

How will these organisations/entities be held accountable?

As well as requiring organisations to provide reports on having met specified targets and quotas, an independent body will be established (known as the Public Sector Gender Equality Commissioner). It will be the responsibility of the Commissioner to ensure that the requirements and outcomes of the Bill are being met. 

For more information and to view the Bill please visit the Victorian government website: https://www.vic.gov.au/gender-equality-bill