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genderequalitycommission.vic.gov.au

Advice for local government

Targeted advice to support local councils to comply with the Gender Equality Act.

Local government

Local councils play a critical role in communities across Victoria. Councils employ nearly 45,000 Victorians and deliver essential services that we use every day. That’s why it’s so important that councils work to progress gender equality in their workplaces and the community.

We know the new obligations under the Gender Equality Act 2020 add to a range of existing planning and reporting obligations for councils. We also know that councils have a unique operating context.

Here are some key things for local councils to consider.

  • As part of a workplace gender audit, councils will need to collect and report data on the gender composition of their governing body. For councils, the governing body is comprised of the Mayor and Councillors. We acknowledge that councils do not have control over the gender composition of the group of Councillors, as they are democratically elected.

    Read more about workplace gender audits and the workplace gender equality indicators.

  • The new Local Government Act 2020 includes a requirement to develop a workforce plan every four years. The workforce plan must include measures relating to gender equality. By doing a Gender Equality Action Plan that meets the requirements of the Gender Equality Act, councils will be meeting this requirement of the Local Government Act. Please note that complying with the gender equality requirements of the Local Government Act will not satisfy the requirements of the Gender Equality Act.

    See Local Government Victoria for more information about the Local Government Act.

    Your Gender Equality Action Plan does not need to be a standalone document – for example, it could form part of your Council Plan. You can also update an existing plan to meet the GEAP requirements. However, you must ensure that the plan meets the requirements set out in the Gender Equality Act – whether it’s a new document, updated document, or chapters of a broader plan.

    Read more about what’s required and how to develop your Gender Equality Action Plan.

  • From 31 March 2021, the Gender Equality Act requires a gender impact assessment to be conducted of policies, programs and services that are new or up for review and have a direct and significant impact on the public.

    Examples of local government policies, programs and services that a gender impact assessment could be conducted for include:

    • Infrastructure projects such as roads, paths and lighting
    • Services such as waste collection, childcare and services for people with disabilities
    • Parks and sporting facilities management

    Engaging the community is one way of ensuring a gender impact assessment considers the needs of people of different genders and backgrounds. Councils may wish to apply their Community Engagement Policy, required under the Local Government Act 2020, when doing a gender impact assessment.

    We encourage councils to incorporate a gender impact assessment process from the earliest stages of design and development of policies, programs and services. This includes when developing broad plans and strategies, such as a Council Plan or Municipal Public Health and Wellbeing Plan. It’s important to ensure that your strategic direction considers the needs and experiences of Victorians of all genders.

    However, you are not required to formally conduct a gender impact assessment of your Council Plan or Municipal Public Health and Wellbeing Plan.

    Women’s Health in the North have developed a useful resource on applying a gendered lens to municipal and health planning.

    Read detailed information on gender impact assessments.

  • Local Government Victoria: Gender equity in local government

    Local Government Victoria’s best practice guide and supporting research companion for promoting gender equity in local government.

    Gender Equality and Local Government factsheet – Local Government Act 2020

    The Local Government Act 2020 and the Gender Equality Act 2020 work together to address the causes and impacts of gender inequality.

    Municipal Association of Victoria

    MAV supports councils to deliver, partner and lead gender equality and preventing violence against women (PVAW) work in their communities and raises the profile of the local government sector’s work in this space.

    General leading practice resources

Implementation pilots with local councils

Before publishing guidance materials for gender impact assessments and workplace gender audits, we conducted a pilot program with 10 local councils. This was to test draft guidance materials to help us understand specific issues faced by local councils in implementing the Act.

A summary of the key strategic issues identified through the pilot is available for download at the link below. The report is current as of September 2020.

We recognise the importance of ensuring local councils receive the right support to comply with the Act. So, we've implemented many of the recommendations included in this report. The Commission is still considering some recommendations as part of the implementing the Act.

Because we prepared the report in September 2020, some of the information is now outdated. Refer to our home page for the most up to date guidance for all defined entities, including local councils.

Reviewed 10 February 2021

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