Ableism is discrimination or prejudice towards people with disability. It can be described as the systemic and interpersonal exclusion and oppression of people with disability. For more information see:


Is based on the belief that people of a certain age should behave in a certain way and are only capable of certain things. Age discrimination and prejudice are usually targeted by one age group against another, but can also be directed towards people in the same age group. Ageism can also be internal, affecting how a person perceives their own abilities in relation to prejudicial attitudes.

Base salary

Base salary is an employee’s full-time equivalent annual salary, including standard benefits such as annual leave and casual loading. Base salary excludes extras like overtime and allowances.

Binary (in relation to gender)

The gender binary is the idea that there are only two genders, men, and women. The gender binary is also linked to the belief that gender is assigned at birth and aligns with biological sex. 


Refers to a person whose gender corresponds with their biological sex. For more information see:


Refers to the domination of First Nations populations by colonisers who settle among and retain control over them through practices such as violence, dispossession of land, and exploitation of resources. 


Repeated unreasonable behaviour directed at an employee that creates a risk to their health and safety.


A complainant is an employee, member of an organisation’s governing body, or member of the public who makes a formal complaint of sexual harassment in a workplace or work-related setting. The complaint may be made internally with an employer or with an external agency.

Compounded gender inequality

Section 6(8) of the Gender Equality Act 2020 (Vic) outlines that “gender inequality may be compounded by other forms of disadvantage or discrimination that a person may experience based on Aboriginality, age, disability, ethnicity, gender identity, race, religion, sexual orientation and other attributes.” The Commission also refers to this concept as “intersectional gender inequality”.

Cultural identity

Affiliation with, or a sense of belonging to, a cultural group based on categories including country of birth, race, ethnicity, religion and/or nationality. Cultural identity also refers to the shared customs, practices, beliefs, languages, and world views of a cultural group. 

Cultural safety

The ability to create an environment that is safe for people from diverse cultures. When a person feels culturally safe, this means there is no challenge or denial of their identity and experience, and they are free from experiences of violence, racism, bullying and harassment. 

Defined entities

The Act applies to defined entities that have 50 or more employees, including: public service bodies, public entities, special bodies, local councils, universities, Court Services Victoria and the Office of Public Prosecutions (s5(1)). A full list of defined entities is available on our website

Direct and indirect racism

Direct racism includes unequal treatment resulting in unequal opportunity, whereas indirect racism includes equal treatment resulting in unequal opportunity. Direct racism is often more blatant whereas indirect racism can be more subtle and therefore more difficult to identify.


When a person treats, or proposes to treat, a person unfavourably because of a personal characteristic or attribute.


Part of how you understand who you are and how you interact with other people. Many people understand their gender as being a man or woman. Some people understand their gender as a mix of these or neither. A person’s gender and their expression of their gender can be shown in different ways, such as through behaviour or physical appearance. For more information see:

Gendered violence

Violence directed against a person because of their gender, or violence that affects people of one gender disproportionately. The violence could include physical, sexual, or psychological harm or suffering. 

Gender identity

A person’s sense of whether they are a man, a woman, non-binary, gender fluid or any combination of these identities. People may use a variety of terms to describe their gender identity. 

Gender roles

The stereotypes that have traditionally been culturally associated with a particular gender. These roles include how people are expected to behave, dress, speak and physically present themselves to the world based on their gender. 


Section 3 of the Act defines an employee as follows: an employee, of a defined entity, means a person employed by the defined entity on a full-time, part-time, casual or fixed term basis (including an apprentice or trainee) but does not include:

  1. a contractor or subcontractor; or
  2. an outworker; or
  3. a person on a vocational placement; or
  4. a student gaining work experience; or
  5. a volunteer.

Flexible working arrangements

Access to one or more of the following arrangements, as chosen by the employee:

  • Working more hours over fewer days
  • Flexible start and finish times
  • Working remotely (negotiated by the employee – i.e. not as a requirement under COVID-19 restrictions)
  • Working part-time (negotiated by the employee only)
  • Shift swap
  • Job sharing
  • Study leave
  • Purchased leave
  • Using leave to work flexible hours

Part-time or remote working arrangements that were mandated or instigated by the employer or by government requirements related to COVID-19 restrictions are not considered flexible work.


The assumption that heterosexuality is the norm and that everyone is heterosexual.


Discrimination or prejudice based on the belief that sexual orientations other than heterosexuality are unnatural. 


Irrational fear or hatred of people who are not heterosexual. 


A theory that seeks to account for how systems of power, such as gender, race, and class, ‘intersect’ to shape experiences of the social world, and potentially exacerbate inequalities.

Intersectional gender inequality

The recognition that gender inequality may be compounded by other forms of disadvantage or discrimination that a person may experience based on Aboriginality, age, disability, ethnicity, gender identity, race, religion, sexual orientation and other attributes. Consideration of intersectionality is an object of the Act under section 4(c).

Lateral violence

Denotes violence which is directed between members of a marginalised group. Sometimes this is described as violence directed sideways at peers, rather than at those in more powerful positions.


The median of a set of values is the middle value when the set is ordered from least to greatest. Half of the set of values are below the median, and half are above the median.

People matter survey (PMS)

An anonymous survey completed by approximately 90% of organisations with reporting obligations under the Gender Equality Act 2020 (Vic). The People matter survey is administered by the Victorian Public Sector Commission (VPSC). For more information see: 


People who were appointed to a role at a higher classification than their previous role. This includes promotions awarded through competitive recruitment processes as well as those awarded after a fixed period. It does not include lateral transfers (at the same classification) or temporary higher duties opportunities.

Psychological safety

The ability to be one’s whole self in a given context, such as the workplace, without fear of negative consequences. 


Is a process through which ideologies, actions, beliefs, and formal policies such as laws produce inequalities between people based on race. Racism can be interpersonal or systemic, and includes prejudice, discrimination or hatred directed at a person because of their skin colour, ethnicity or religion. Racism can also be subtle and does not always include direct acts of abuse or harassment. Racism can evolve over time and impacts specific communities in different ways.   


People who have been newly appointed to a role from both internal and external recruitment processes. It doesn’t include people who have been promoted.

Self-described gender

For the purposes of the 2021 workplace gender audit, the Commission collected data within three categories – women, men and self-described gender. Gender is part of how someone understands who they are and how they interact with other people. Many people identify their gender as being ‘woman’ or ‘man’. Some people understand their gender as a combination of these or neither. Gender can be expressed in different ways, such as through behaviour or physical appearance. A person’s gender does not necessarily mean they have particular sex characteristics or a particular sexuality, or vice versa. The Commission recommended allowing an option for self-described gender with a free text option, in addition to ‘woman’ and ‘man’ when collecting gender data. For those people who identify with a self-described gender, their gender should have been recorded in relevant systems using the term(s) provided by the employee. 

This report refers to people of self-described gender as a group; however, the Commission acknowledges that an individual with a self-described gender may identify as non-binary, trans, gender diverse, agender, qenderqueer, genderfluid or using any other term. For more information on gender-inclusive language, please refer to:


A person’s biological sex characteristics. The term ‘sex’ has previously been understood as either female or male. For more information see:


Is based on the belief that men are superior to women. Sexism can be interpersonal or systemic, and includes prejudice, discrimination or hatred directed at a person, usually women, based on sex. Sexism can also be subtle and does not always include direct acts of abuse or harassment. Sexism takes multiple forms and can happen across multiple contexts.

Sexual harassment

Non-consensual or unwelcome sexual behaviour that could be expected to make a person feel offended, humiliated or intimidated. Sexual harassment may be physical, spoken or written and can be directed at, and perpetrated by, persons of any sex or gender. A single incident can constitute sexual harassment, as can a broader pattern of behaviour.


See ‘sexual orientation’.

Sexual orientation

A person’s romantic or sexual attraction to others. A person’s gender does not mean they have certain sex characteristics or a particular sexuality, or vice versa. For more information see:


Irrational fear or hatred of people who are transgender. 

Workplace adjustments

A modification to a work process, practice, procedure or setting that enables a person with disability to perform their job in a way that minimises the impact of barriers they face at work. For more information see: