Victoria made history last night in passing Australia’s first Gender Equality Bill (the Bill). This landmark piece of legislation is designed to level the playing field so that all Victorians, regardless of gender, can benefit from equality of opportunity and equal rights.
The passing of the Gender Equality Bill will improve workplace gender equality as well as signal to the Victorian community that equality is not negotiable and cultural change is integral to a safer, healthier and more productive community.
What does this mean for organisations?
The new law applies to certain organisations with more than 50 employees, including public sector bodies, local councils, universities, the courts, the Office of Public Prosecutions and other defined bodies.
From March 2021, affected organisations will be required to promote gender equality in the community through a number of different means, such as reviewing and amending policies, programs and services. These organisations are obliged to develop a Gender Equality Action Plan and report publicly every two years on their progress against it. The Bill establishes an independent Public Sector Gender Equality Commissioner, who amongst other things, will have an education function and be empowered in certain circumstances to take steps to ensure that affected organisations are complying with their legal obligations. Finally, the Act provides that Regulations can set targets and quotas against which affected organisations will be held accountable to.
How can we help?
Our Workplace Relations team at Moores has extensive experience in supporting universities, local councils and other employers to prevent gendered harm and discrimination, as well as respond to and resolve complaints. Our Workplace Relations leader, Skye Rose, is an award winning workplace relations and discrimination lawyer, who is a recognized expert in discrimination, child safety and the prevention of sexual harm and misconduct.
The new Gender Equality Act has a commencement date in March 2021 so as to give affected organisations time to get their house in order. Regardless of whether your organization has legal obligations under the Bill, Skye and our team would be delighted to work together with organisations to ensure that they are prepared for the commencement of this historic Bill.
For more information, please do not hesitate to contact us.