Victoria set to introduce new “gender equality bill”

The Victorian government has released details of new draft legislation this week that describes changes to the public sector that will force departments to introduce radical new policies to meet “gender quotas and targets”.

The new plan will include a requirement to develop and provide regular reporting with a ‘Gender Equality Action Plan’ and a 50/50 employee representation quota for most areas of business.

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Victoria leads the charge. Photo: Natalie Hutchins

The Victorian government has released details of a new draft “Gender Equality Bill” this week, detailing coming changes to the public sector that will force departments to introduce radical new policies to meet ‘gender quotas and targets’. 


The Gender Equality Bill (2018) (download) proposes that Victorian Government departments, the public sector and local governments “achieve gender equality through quotas, action plans and reporting.”

First revealed last month, the bill proposes new obligations on the Victorian public sector to plan and report on ‘gender equality’, and will be progressively implemented on public sector organisations as follows:

  • All Victorian Government departments
  • Public sector entities with over 100 full time employees
  • Local government

According to reports, “international evidence” has demonstrated that when public bodies are compelled to promote gender equality by law, “gender equality improves”. The Gender Equality Bill (2018) will ensure the public sector role models gender equality.

The legislation states that all public sector organisations must develop and report on a ‘Gender Equality Action Plan‘ and sets a 50/50 representation goal ratio:

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A synopsis of the proposals. Photo:

Furthermore, The Office for Women would advise the Minister for Women on the compliance of organisations, who would then be able to name public sector organisations that do not comply with their obligations in her annual report.

Natalie Hutchins, Minister for Women, spoke on the new proposals in a press release:

“Targets, action plans and reporting need to be enshrined in law. While Victoria does have laws that prevent discrimination based on gender, there is currently no law to proactively progress gender equality.

The evidence is clear: when public bodies are compelled to promote gender equality by law, gender equality improves.”

The new move is part of the Victorian government’s new Safe and Strong: A Victorian Gender Equality Strategy, a program aimed at developing enduring and sustained action on domestic violence and ‘gender inequality’ in Australia.

The new strategy includes radical reforms that lay the groundwork and set a new standard for ‘gender action’ by the Victorian Government.

Related: Diversity Council launches campaign to stop “non-inclusive language” at work

These reforms will draw on all levers, including:

  • Legislative changes
  • Governance structures
  • Employment practices
  • Policy
  • Procurement
  • Funding decisions
  • Advocacy to the Commonwealth Government.

The strategy also considers six settings for ‘statewide action’ in which “strategic alliances and partnerships” will enable shared progress towards ‘gender equality’.

These partnerships include education and training, work and economic security, leadership and participation, health and safety, port and recreation, and media.

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Face-to-face consultation with stakeholders on the legislation will commence later this month. A Citizens’ Jury on the Bill will be held in September.

To find out more about the Citizen’s Jury and how to have your say on the Gender Equality Bill, visit

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Consultations on the Bill are open until 28 September, and will be tabled to Parliament in March 2019 ahead of a 2020 commencement.


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