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What do policies, programs and services look like in my organisation?

The terms ‘policy’, ‘program’ and ‘service’ are used in different ways in different organisations. This means your first step will be to clarify the meaning of these terms in your organisation, based on definitions provided here.1

Policies

Policies are formal or informal principle statements, standards or rules to be followed within an organisation. Policies requiring a gender impact assessment under section 9 of the Gender Equality Act (2020)External Link will mostly be external-facing policies aimed at the general public (for example, customers, clients, students, patients, community members, and consumers). This could include a community engagement policy, grants policy or privacy policy.

Legal policy

In most cases, local and state laws have significant impacts on the public. As such, the development of legal policy proposals must be subject to a gender impact assessment under the Act. Similarly, where a review of local or state laws is undertaken with a view to proposing amendments to the underlying legal policy, the review process must also have a gender impact assessment integrated. Legal policy proposals or reviews that are administratively focused would fall outside of the scope of the requirement to complete a gender impact assessment.

Strategies and plans

In some circumstances the terms ‘strategy’, ‘plan,’ ‘framework’ and ‘policy’ are used interchangeably. Strategies, plans and frameworks often set the direction for future programs and services by stating priorities and shaping budget allocations. Because of this, it is likely that a strategy, plan or framework will fall under the definition of a policy.

Programs

A program is an initiative or set of projects that have a defined duration and set of deliverables. A program is geared towards accomplishing a major goal or set of goals or outcomes. For example, small and large-scale grants programs, infrastructure development, and public-facing leadership programs should be subject to gender impact assessment.

Budget bids/budget proposals

Large-scale programs of work such as budget bids and business cases (including budget bids developed across Victorian Government departments) are considered programs and must be subject to gender impact assessment. This is because a budget bid is the proposal for a program of work. It is important that, from the earliest opportunity, resources are allocated in a way that considers gendered impacts.

Please note: Victorian Government Departments preparing funding proposals for the 2023–24 state budget process are subject to particular gender impact assessment requirements. Please contact DTF for further information at genderresponsive.budgeting@dtf.vic.gov.au.

Services

Defined entities within Victoria provide a wide range of services to the public. The types of services that require a gender impact assessment may vary from one entity to another. In general, services which are new or up for review within the following areas will need a gender impact assessment: aged care, childcare, health care, safety, environment, emergency and waste management, open space planning, student services, libraries, recreation and other public facilities. Services may also include transport, cost, accessibility, and communication methods.

Remember

The requirement to conduct gender impact assessments only applies to policies, programs and services that are new (being developed) or up for review.
Defined entities are not required to assess policies, programs and services that are already in place unless they are being formally reviewed.

References

1 Defined entities are encouraged to contact the Commission to discuss a particular policy, program or service if they are unsure about whether a gender impact assessment is required after reading this guidance.

Reviewed 17 January 2023

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