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Focus Areas and Actions 2022-25

The department’s plan provides the framework to promote workplace gender equality across our VPS and GTS workforces. Its accompanying annual implementation plan provides specific actions and measures to track progress against the Workplace Gender Equality Indicators over time.

Staff located in corporate, schools and public entities can play an active role to implement the plan in everyday behaviours, culture, values and practices.

The following focus areas have been developed based on the results of the department’s 2021 workplace gender audit, feedback from consultations with our staff and evidence-based research.

The focus areas identify the priorities and actions that our people feel will improve gender equality for both VPS and GTS staff in the department. You can see the Workplace Gender Audit 2021 Summary Report on our Gender Equality webpage and read more about the consultation approach in Appendix 2.

Focus Area 1: Promote equality in the composition of our workforces


The gender composition at all levels of the workforce provides an insight into areas of imbalance when it comes to gender and diversity.

Gender bias and gender stereotypes can influence recruitment, promotion, and career progression. Gendered occupational differences are driven by societal gendered norms and stereotypes about what work is appropriate for men and women, as well as structural factors including access to flexible working arrangements and employment conditions that attract people to different roles.


Priorities include:

  • improve data capture and analysis to monitor, report and drive improvement
  • align key policies and practices with business planning processes to promote gender equality and inclusion
  • embed inclusive recruitment and career development opportunities for all staff to have the same opportunities to progress

Relevant workplace gender equality indicators:

  • gender composition at all levels of the workforce
  • gender composition of governing bodies
  • gendered work segregation
  • recruitment and promotion

Focus Area 2: Reduce the gender pay gap


The gender pay gap measures the difference between the average earnings of women and men in the workforce. It is not the difference between two people being paid differently for work of the same or comparable value on the basis of gender, which is unlawful. This is called equal pay.

Closing the gender pay gap goes beyond just ensuring equal pay. It requires cultural change to remove the barriers to the full and equal participation of women in the workforce.

Societal and cultural factors mean women are far more likely than men to work flexibly, especially by working part-time, and taking longer parental leave. Ensuring equitable access to flexible work arrangements and leave options will help to reduce the gender pay gap and improve retention of women in our workforces.

The gap between women’s and men’s earnings reflects the historic and systemic undervaluing of women’s workplace contributions and the significant barriers that lead to the under-representation of women in senior executive and management roles.

The department’s 2021 Workplace Gender Audit found that gender pay gaps exist across both the VPS and GTS workforces (8.7% and 9.8% respectively).

While no pay gap is acceptable, the department’s results are significantly better than the Australian average gender pay gap (14.2%) and the Victorian average gender pay gap (12.2%)[1]. However, a pay gap does exist and action is needed to eliminate it.

The department’s gender pay gap is largely attributed to a ‘progression gap’: the part of the gender pay gap due to differences in the gender composition at different classification levels – which reflects differences in progression (and recruitment) rates of genders across classification levels.

Women are overrepresented at lower classification levels across both the VPS and GTS workforce which is driving the gender pay gap.

The department’s 2021 Workplace Gender Audit found that across both the VPS and GTS workforces, women were more likely to work part-time, to use flexible work arrangements, and access Parental Leave and Carer’s Leave. Only women used family violence leave[2].


Priorities include:

  • build a strong awareness of the importance and benefits of gender equality and drive the message of responsibility for all
  • promote understanding and availability of leave types and flexible working in all roles and levels and for all diverse staff
  • develop and promote resources to drive change in gendered occupational segregation trends
  • develop and implement an effective gender impact assessment and reporting process

Relevant workplace gender equality indicators:

  • gender pay equity[3]
  • recruitment and promotion
  • leave and flexibility

Focus Area 3: Ensure a safe, inclusive and respectful workplace


A range of harmful and disrespectful behaviours occur in the workplace including bullying, discrimination and sexual harassment. Women, people with a disability, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and gender diverse, and intersex people are more likely to experience these behaviours at work than others.

The department’s 2021 Workplace Gender Audit showed that women with specific intersecting identities, such as women with disability, Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander women, and LGBTIQ+ women were significantly more likely to have experienced sexual harassment, bullying and discrimination within the last 12 months compared to other women. Consequently, all priorities must include an intersectional approach.

Addressing these behaviours and promoting a culture of inclusion and respect will not only ensure compliance with legislation but will provide all employees with a safe and constructive work environment. This will support increased diversity of staff across all roles and levels and improve the outcomes for learners, families and the community.


Priorities include:

  • empower all staff to build an inclusive and respectful workplace culture which has shared responsibility from staff and leaders to prevent and address harassment, bullying, sexual harassment and discrimination
  • increase the capability of people managers and leaders to address and respond to disrespectful behaviours and complaints
  • embed a culture of respect and gender equality for the school workforce
  • promote the range of safe reporting options and the supports available for staff experiencing or witnessing disrespectful or inappropriate behaviours

Relevant workplace gender equality indicators:

  • workplace sexual harassment
  • gendered work segregation


[1] Source: Australia’s Gender Pay Gap Statistics | WGEA.

[2] Between 1 July 2020 and 30 June 2021

[3] As of 1 February 2022, proposed amendments to the Gender Equality Regulations 2020 (Vic) require a Gender Equality Action Plan to take into account ‘gender pay equity principles’. These have been incorporated into the action plan (see appendix 1).