Advice for universities

Targeted advice to support universities to comply with the Gender Equality Act.


Universities in Victoria teach and support local, interstate and international students of all ages, generate leading research, and make scientific breakthroughs. Universities have a unique role in promoting gender equality and are making substantial efforts to address violence against women and gender inequality on campus. The Gender Equality Act will complement this ongoing work.

We recognise that universities have existing obligations to report to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) under the Commonwealth Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012.

Here are some key things for universities to consider.

  • Universities already collect a broad range of data in order to meet the WGEA requirements. Much of this data can be used to complete a workplace gender audit under the Gender Equality Act. The workplace gender equality indicators are largely aligned to WGEA’s gender equality indicators. However, some of the specific data measures required under each Act will be different. 

    Similarly, universities may be collecting additional data as part of a SAGE Athena SWAN Award application that can also be used.

    Read more about workplace gender audits and the workplace gender equality indicators under the Gender Equality Act.

  • Universities may have existing gender equality strategies or action plans. You can update an existing document to submit as your Gender Equality Action Plan. However, you must ensure that the plan meets the requirements set out in the Gender Equality Act. You will also need to apply to the Public Sector Gender Equality Commissioner to have your document accepted as meeting the requirements of the Act.

    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.

    For universities, the ‘public’ includes the student body.

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

    • infrastructure projects such as new buildings and lighting
    • services such as housing, healthcare and campus security
    • policies and programs such as scholarship programs, student equity, disability and inclusion policies and programs and public events programs

    Read more about gender impact assessments.

  • Every two years, defined entities will be required to submit a progress report.

    Progress reports must include:

    • what policies, programs and services were subject to a gender impact assessment
    • what actions you took as a result of the gender impact assessment
    • your progress in relation to the measures and strategies set out in your Gender Equality Action Plan
    • your progress in relation to the workplace gender equality indicators
    • whether you met any relevant targets or quotas (note there are currently no targets or quotas)

    Please note the requirement that defined entities show ‘reasonable and material progress’ against the workplace gender equality indicators, and any targets or quotas.

    For universities who are reporting to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), your first progress report will be due for submission in October 2023 alongside other defined entities. However, the relevant reporting period is 1 April 2021 – 31 March 2023 to align with your WGEA obligations.

Reviewed 14 December 2020

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