Chapter 10 Outcome 6 - Women
Outcome 6 at a glance
Improved gender equality through coordinated whole of government advice and support for women’s economic security, safety and status.
Outcome and programs
Figure 10.1 Outcome 6 program
- Australia’s first National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children was agreed by the Council of Australian Governments in February 2011.
- Significant reforms to improve gender equality in the workplace through changes to the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Act 1999 and the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency were announced in March 2011.
- In March 2011, the Minister for the Status of Women, the Hon. Tanya Plibersek MP, led the Australian delegation to the 55th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.
- More than 300 events celebrating the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day were supported by the Office for Women, including a public forum in Parliament House on 8 March.
- 1800 RESPECT commenced as a new professional national telephone counselling service for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
- In July 2010, Australia appeared before the United Nations to report on Australia’s progress in implementing the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
- The Department supported the Minister for the Status of Women to publish the 2011–12 Women’s Budget Statement, providing information about how specific budget measures address gender inequality.
- Four webisodes and targeted projects specifically developed for young people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and Indigenous young people were released as part of The Line social marketing campaign.
- Over 62,000 people had signed up as fans of The Line on Facebook by June 2011, with 524,367 unique visits to the website and an average of 5,000 votes on the weekly polls.
- In partnership with the Australian Institute of Company Directors, 70 scholarships were awarded under the jointly funded Board Diversity Scholarship Program in January 2011.
- In June 2011, Alice Springs community members met with the Minister for the Status of Women and the Violence Against Women Advisory Group to share information about reducing violence against women and their children.
- The Office for Women provided support to six national women’s alliances as the primary advocacy and consultation mechanism between the Government, women’s groups and individual women across Australia, including through a major forum in May 2011.
- Seventy experts were appointed to the Gender Panel to assist departments to develop efficient and effective gender-related policy, programs and services.
Program 6.1: Gender Equality for Women
The objective of program 6.1 is to implement strategies in priority areas to achieve gender equality. The priority areas include:
- improving economic outcomes for women
- reducing violence against women
- ensuring women’s equal place in society.
The program has the following components:
- Gender Equality for Women
- Other Services—Services for other Government and Non‑Government Bodies (Special Account).
Gender Equality for Women
The objective of the Gender Equality for Women component is to implement strategies in priority areas to achieve gender equality.
Improving women’s economic security
Women continue to have significantly less economic security over their life course compared to men. Women’s earnings are lower and they participate in the workforce in fewer numbers, resulting in poorer retirement savings and income. Improving women’s workforce participation and economic security are fundamental components of improving gender equality outcomes.
In 2010–11 the Office for Women supported the Minister for the Status of Women to develop the reform package following the review of the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Act 1999. Under the reforms, annual reporting to the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency will be made simpler and more transparent, focusing on outcomes for women and men in the workplace. It is proposed that the Act and agency be renamed, respectively, the Workplace Gender Equality Act and the Workplace Gender Equality Agency. The reforms are intended to strengthen the agency’s focus on gender equality, highlighting pay equity and caring responsibilities as key concerns.
The Office for Women also provided advice to the Minister on matters such as pay equity, workplace flexibility, occupational segregation and superannuation.
Economic Security for Women is one of the six national women’s alliances funded by the Government. The alliance undertakes projects to work towards the outcome of greater economic security for women and represents women on a range of issues across governments. Its focus in 2010–11 was on projects such as pay and gender workforce equity and education and training of girls and women.
Following COAG endorsement, the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children was officially announced by the Minister for the Status of Women, the Hon. Kate Ellis MP, and the Attorney-General, the Hon. Robert McClelland MP, on 15 February 2011.
Building on the $42 million package of immediate measures announced in April 2009, the Australian Government committed over $44 million in August 2010 for a range of initiatives focused on supporting primary prevention, building the evidence base and improving the service system.
The Department began to implement these initiatives, including ongoing consultation with states and territories to ensure a national approach. The national plan is underpinned by the principle that involving all governments and the wider community is necessary to reduce violence in the short and longer terms. No government or group can tackle this problem alone.
The Violence Against Women Advisory Group is a diverse group of recognised experts in family violence and sexual assault fields, which provides valuable advice to the Government, including on the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children. Since the national plan was announced the advisory group has actively engaged with the community and promotes the plan at relevant events. The advisory group met three times during 2010–11.
The Line is a social marketing campaign developed to encourage respectful relationships and change the attitudes and behaviours that contribute to violence. It is the first Australian Government communication campaign to use digital and social media as the primary tools for engaging with young people. The campaign was launched in June 2010.
One of the main features of the mainstream website is the webisodes. The first webisode, ‘Sxting’, went live in February 2011 and the fourth webisode, ‘E–hacker’, was released in April 2011. Other key events during 2010–11 included the launch of the culturally and linguistically diverse campaign; Liner Notes, a hip hop CD that uses the power of music to send a message about respectful relationships; the culturally and linguistically diverse webpage; the Indigenous campaign, comprising four plays, comics and lesson plans centred on respect; and the Indigenous webpage.
Support for victims of people trafficking
The Support for Victims of People Trafficking Program provides individualised case management, including income assistance, access to accommodation, medical treatment, basic legal advice, counselling and social support, for victims of people trafficking. In 2010–11, the program assisted 80 clients, an increase of 15 from 2009–10.
Since 2004, the program has supported 184 clients, mainly women who have been trafficked into the sex industry (149 women). Increasing numbers of clients, both men (19) and women (16), are victims of labour trafficking.
In June 2011, the Minister for the Status of Women announced new funding for the national women’s alliances to undertake projects on emerging issues affecting women and gender equality. The six successful projects were:
- Multicultural women’s experiences in Australia—Australian Immigrant and Refugee Women’s Alliance. The project will produce an online video and print advertising campaign highlighting the challenges immigrant and refugee women face in integrating into Australian society
- Impacts and opportunities of new media technologies for feminism—Equality Rights Alliance. The project will assess the impact of new technologies and communication on young women and develop a new website as an online place for young women to share views, connect with the women’s movement and gain access to mentoring
- Gender appropriate economic responses to natural disasters—Economic Security for Women. The project will turn a gender lens on disaster-affected areas in Queensland and Victoria, and identify a range of gendered approaches addressing the economic empowerment needs of women affected by natural disasters
- Empowering rural women to lead their community in the implementation of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children—National Rural Women’s Coalition and Network and Australian Women Against Violence Alliance. The project will develop a toolkit and guide to support women to implement the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children
- Developing disaster resilient rural communities—National Rural Women’s Coalition and Network. The project will develop a toolkit and manual supporting women in rural, regional and remote communities to undertake leadership roles in disaster preparation
- Superannuation issues for Indigenous women—National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Alliance. The project will focus on superannuation issues for Indigenous women through consultation with Indigenous women, government and industry stakeholders.
The Office for Women is coordinating across Commonwealth portfolios to meet the Government’s target of 40 per cent representation of women on government boards by 2015. At 30 June 2010 representation was 34.5 per cent. Five portfolios had more than 40 per cent and seven portfolios were above 30 per cent.
The Australian Government, in partnership with the Australian Institute of Company Directors, awarded 70 scholarships under the jointly funded Board Diversity Scholarship Program. The program aims to increase gender diversity on private sector boards by enabling women to participate in targeted courses.
The Gender Panel supports the development of gender expertise across the Australian Government by providing a range of services to promote the integration of gender equality into policy, programs and research.
It is a panel of gender experts that has been established to make gender expertise available across all Commonwealth Government departments and agencies. The panel is managed by the Office for Women and will operate until 31 December 2013.
Any Australian Government agency may contract with panel members for the services covered by the panel. There are 41 panel members in total. They are organisations or individuals able to apply gender expertise to Australian Government policies, programs and administrative processes, through a broad range of activities including research, evaluation, training, provision of policy advice and development of educational materials.
At Australia’s appearance before the United Nations, the UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women noted major developments in Australia’s approach to eliminating discrimination against women, such as the Fair Work Act 2009, the Paid Parental Leave Act 2010 and Australia’s endorsement of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Australia, supported by the Office for Women, participated in the 55th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. The Australian Government delegation, supported by the Office for Women, played an active role in negotiating the meeting’s agreed conclusions and hosted a number of side events, raising Australia’s profile internationally.
Other Services—Services for other Government and Non‑Government Bodies (Special Account)
The objective of the Other Services—Services for other Government and Non-Government Bodies (Special Account) component is to manage expenditure in connection with services performed on behalf of other governments and bodies that are not Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 agencies, including the Commonwealth, State, Territory and New Zealand Ministers’ Conference on the Status of Women.
The conference was established in 1991 and has operated as the sole cross‑jurisdictional mechanism to advance the economic, social and political status of women, and progress gender equality in Australia and New Zealand. With ministerial-level representation from the Commonwealth, state, territory and New Zealand governments, the conference facilitated action in areas of national significance, including women’s safety, economic status and leadership. In 2010–11 the conference initiated the Australian gender indicators, which will provide an important high-level picture of how Australia is faring in achieving equality.
The Office for Women provided secretariat services to the conference; to the Women’s Advisers Meeting, which served as the officials’ group for the conference; and to the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Gathering, a subcommittee of the conference.
Following a review in 2009–10, COAG agreed on 13 February 2011 to institute a new council system. The new system will better enable COAG to focus on and progress nationally significant reforms. Under the COAG reforms the current Commonwealth, State, Territory and New Zealand Ministers’ Conference on the Status of Women and its subcommittees will cease to operate and a Select Council on Women’s Issues will be established.
Summary of performance
Table 10.1 summarises the Department’s results for program 6.1 against the key performance indicators published in the
2010–11 PB Statements.
Table 10.1 Program 6.1—key performance indicators
|Key performance indicator||Result|
|Gender Equality for Women|
|Percentage and number of women representatives on Australian Government boards||34.5%;1,574|
|Assessment by stakeholders on the contribution of the Office for Women to national debates affecting gender equality||100% of respondents agreed that the Office for Women contributed positively to national debates affecting gender equality.|
|Percentage and number of women contacting the national online and 1800 service||79% of individuals contacting the national online and 1800 service were women, totalling 9,593 women.|
Table 10.2 summarises the Department’s result for program 6.1 against the deliverable published in the 2010–11 PB Statements.
Table 10.2 Program 6.1—deliverable
|Number of individuals contacting Helplinea programs||3,373 individuals contacted the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault National Helpline. 67% of these were women. The 1800RESPECT service registered 8,730 contacts. 84% of these were with women.|
aHelpline refers to the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault National Helpline until 30 September 2010. The 1800RESPECT service commenced on 1 October 2010 and provides counselling, information, advice and referral.
Outlook for Outcome 6
The Office for Women will focus on fully implementing the reforms to the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Act 1999 in 2011–12. The Department will continue to consult with key stakeholders, including business and unions, to inform the development of the legislative amendments. The office will work closely with the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency to implement the new framework.
The six national women’s alliances submit annual activity work plans and identify new projects and priorities each year. The alliances’ priorities for 2011–12 include human rights, reducing violence against women, child protection, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women’s public and political participation, and networking for rural women.
Australia, supported by the Office for Women, will participate in the 56th session of the Commission on the Status of Women from 27 February to 9 March 2012. The priority theme for discussion at the session is ‘empowerment of rural women and their role in poverty and hunger eradication, development and current challenges’.
The Office for Women will concentrate on implementing government priorities under the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children. Under the first three-year action plan this work has a strong focus on primary prevention, building the evidence base and laying the groundwork for further developments in the service system.
National plan initiatives to be progressed in 2011–12 include establishing a new national centre of excellence, data collection through the personal safety survey, research into responses for perpetrators of violence against women and projects to support improving service system responses for particularly vulnerable groups.
The Office for Women will work with Commonwealth portfolios to enable all portfolios to meet the Government’s target of 40 per cent representation of women on government boards by 2015.
In support of United Nations Resolution 1325, the Office for Women will coordinate the development of Australia’s National Plan on Women, Peace and Security and associated actions.