Julie Kun, CEO of WIRE - what does the Victorian Gender Equality Act mean for me and my organisation?

Finally, the wait is over: as of 31 March 2021, the Victorian Gender Equality Act has come into operation. Yet, many Australians weren’t even aware that this Act was slowly churning through the legislature-creation sausage machine for the last couple of years. So, despite my excitement, I’ve learnt to expect questions like “What’s this Act about?” and “What does this mean for me and my organisation?”.

Julie Kun, CEO of WIRE - what does the Victorian Gender Equality Act mean for me and my organisation?

Here’s the low down: it’s a big deal. The Act has established new obligations that over 300 Victorian organisations need to consider and undertake. And that could mean your organisation too.

These obligations include:

Why is the Act a big deal?

  1. Gender equality is both urgent and important.

We often don’t do important work because urgent work gets in the way. Although gender equality work is important to many individuals and organisations, it can get pushed down the long list of priorities. The Act prompts urgency for gender equality in organisations, outlining strict timelines for conducting audits, implementing improvement plans and assessing key policies and actions for gender responsiveness.

  1. Our communities are impacted.

The organisations outlined in the Act make up about 12% of Victoria’s workforce, and their work has a significant impact on our communities. The list includes local councils, universities and Victorian public services, as well as authorities such as the water industry and court services. 

  1. We can identify what work is needed and measure our success.   

The saying “If you can’t measure it, it doesn’t exist” rings true in gender equality work: if you don’t know what work needs to be done, how can you improve as an organisation and measure your success? The Act requires listed organisations to assess gender equality in their workplace and their work with the public, as well as implement an action plan for improvement. These obligations help organisations to identify their strengths and gaps in gender equality, and to measure the success of their action plans.

  1. Gender equality overlaps with intersectionality

Gender equality impacts different people in myriad ways. For example, structural and cultural barriers in the workplace can also stem from racism, islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia and ableism, to name a few. Organisations are encouraged to adopt an intersectional lens when dealing with the complexities of gender equality. This includes considering different social and political identities that can create different modes of discrimination and privilege.

Many organisations are doing this important work to meet these obligations and there’s a real opportunity to share their valuable learnings with other organisations, including those who aren’t listed in Act—everyone can still reap the benefits and implement proven strategies.  

Want to learn more? The Gender Equality Commission website has a wealth of  information about conducting gender audits, creating action plans and applying a gender lens over policy and practices.

About  WIRE

WIRE is Victoria’s only free generalist service organisation that offers support, referrals and information for  women, non binary and gender diverse people to address the issues they identify and  assist them to make informed choices in their lives, We advocate for structural change to bring about gender equity and social justice. WIRE is  innovative with a range of programs and projects  that builds positive, strategic, systemic, cultural, and individual impact.

WIRE is also a proud TCP member and  is honoured to be selected by the Gender Equality Commission to be one of  24 service providers offering specialist advice and support about Victoria’s Gender Equality Act. If you’re interested in learning more about our consultancy work, please contact Mia McDonald on consultancyservices@wire.org.au

Julie Kun

Julie Kun is the CEO of WIRE and a white settler of migrant refugee parentage. She lives on the land of the Kulin Nation and is a feminist, social worker and social justice campaigner. Leading and working with an organisation like WIRE is a privilege that enables Julie to live out her values and hopes for her community.

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