Gender Equality Advisory Committee

On 4 February 2021, Local Government Minister, The Hon Shaun Leane MP and Minister for Women, the Hon Gabrielle Williams MP announced the formation of a new Gender Equality Advisory Committee (GEAC). The GEAC will draw on the experience from across the sector to ensure local government can harness the benefits of equality for all Victorians. This new committee has been formed in an effort to drive gender equality across Victoria’s 79 councils.

The committee will advise the Minister for Local Government and Minister for Women, The Hon Gabrielle Williams, on how to deliver the Government’s target of 50 per cent female mayors and councillors by 2025. The Implementation of equality measures in the Local Government Act 2020 and Australian-first Gender Equality Act will also be a priority, addressing the challenges identified by women elected as councillors and as council employees.

This work follows the 2020 local government elections, where 272 women were elected to council – representing 43.8 percent of councillors. While a new high for both Victoria and the nation, there is still some way to go to achieve the 50 per cent target by 2025.

The committee will also include representatives from the Australian Local Government Women’s Association, the Australian Services Union, the Municipal Association of Victoria, Victorian Local Governance Association, Local Government Professionals and Reconciliation Victoria.

MPs Juliana Addison and Kat Theophanous will co-chair the new committee, with ten places open for mayors, councillors, chief executives or senior council officers.

Expressions of Interest are now open and Mayors and CEO’s will receive a letter asking them to think about this opportunity for themselves or someone they know. Community organisations are also encouraged to share this opportunity with their eligible contacts. The Expression of Interest template can be found here.

If you would like further information you can email the GEAC secretariat via email LGV-GEAC-Secretariat@ecodev.vic.gov.au. Eveline Kane, Program Manager Strategy and Implementation is also available for contact via email Eveline.kane@ecodev.vic.gov.au

Terms of Reference for the Gender Equality Advisory Committee can be found here.

Anniversary

November 2020 marked 100 years since the election of Victoria’s first female councillor, Mary Rogers, to Richmond City Council.

In a fitting tribute, results from the 2020 Local Government elections came in the same week as the anniversary. Victoria elected 272 women – 43.8 per cent of councillors, the most in Australian history.

The Victorian Government’s Gender Equality Strategy, Safe and Strong, sets a target of 50/50 gender representation on councils by 2025.

Why gender equality? Why local government?

When you have diversity in decision-making bodies, you make better decisions. As the level of government closest to communities, it’s vital councils reflect all the people they serve.

But gender equality is not just about elected councillors. It’s also about local government staff.

Councils employ more than 45,000 Victorians. While more than half of that workforce is female, only one third of directors and managers are women, including 30 per cent of chief executives.

LGV support for gender equality – programmes and projects

Local Government Victoria helps to fund several programmes to promote and support gender equality in local government:

Key Documents – Guides, Strategies and Reports

Local Government and Gender Equality Acts

The new Gender Equality and Local Government Acts, passed into law earlier this year, put gender equality, diversity and inclusion as a key priority for councils and their staff.

The two Acts complement each other and introduce a wide range of different measures, including:

  • Councils must prepare workforce plans that measure gender equality, diversity and inclusiveness in their workforce
  • Councillors will have access to paid parental leave and reimbursement for care expenses
  • Action on sexual harassment and other forms of councillor misconduct
  • Gender equality audits across the local government sector

Public Sector Gender Equality Commissioner

One of the most significant reforms of the Australian-first Gender Equality Act is the role of Public Sector Gender Equality Commissioner.

The Commissioner will oversee implementation of the Gender Equality Act and play a key leadership role in promoting gender equality in the Victorian community and workplaces – including councils.

In September 2020, Minister for Women Gabrielle Williams announced the appointment of Dr Niki Vincent to the position.

For more on the work of the Commissioner, visit https://www.genderequalitycommission.vic.gov.au/the-public-sector-gender-equality-commissioner

Page last updated: 23/02/21