Foreword from the Victorian Government

When it comes to gender equality, Victoria leads the nation. We’ve taken great strides towards making the state fairer and more equal for all. We’ve invested in the things that matter to women and girls, and we’re creating more opportunities for them than ever before.

Since 2016, our landmark gender equality reforms have been guided by Safe and strong: a Victorian gender equality strategy. Safe and strong laid the critical foundations to make Victoria a more equal place – for everyone. We used all our available levers – legislation, policy development, investment, budgeting and public sector employment – to drive gender equality. And we’ve worked collaboratively with communities and experts to pave the way for lasting change.

In 2020, we became the first jurisdiction in Australia to enshrine public sector gender equality laws through the Gender Equality Act 2020. The Act targets the drivers of gender inequalities, including the gender pay gap, gendered workplace segregation, under-representation in leadership roles, lack of workplace flexibility and sexual harassment.

Then, in 2021, we became the first state to introduce gender responsive budgeting. Every year, we analyse and consider the impact of investment decisions on women at every stage of the budget process. And we’ll enshrine gender responsive budgeting in law, so it can keep guiding investment into the future.

Alongside these critical frameworks, we’ve made practical, targeted investments to directly address women’s needs and work toward improving outcomes for them:

  • Our nation leading Best Start, Best Life reforms will make childcare more accessible and affordable for Victorians, unlocking women’s participation in the workforce.
  • We’re giving women’s health the focus, funding and respect it deserves with a comprehensive package which includes new services, better research, significant investments – and a crucial inquiry into women’s pain management.
  • We’re the first place in Australia to ensure every government school student has universal access to free pads and tampons – and next, we’ll provide them at up to 700 public sites across the state from 2024.

These are solutions to problems that have often been overlooked, or misunderstood – and all of them were developed by women, for women. It shows the power and the potential of public policy made by people, for people. And initiatives like this can only come out of a Cabinet where women have a voice, and are properly represented. That’s why we’re proud to have reached gender parity in Cabinet in 2018, and continue to have a majority of women sitting in Cabinet today.

But when it comes to gender equality, we know there’s always more to do – and we’re not slowing down. It’s an honour to present Our equal state, Victoria’s gender equality strategy and first State gender equality action plan. Through Our equal state, we’re building on our work to drive gender equality – and laying a path towards it for generations to come.

We recognise that addressing gender inequality requires systemic and structural reform, and the Victorian Government is in a unique position to lead this work. But addressing the bias and discrimination embedded across society needs community-wide action. In other words, we can’t go it alone: we need to work in partnership with the private and community sectors, media, sporting and volunteer groups, and all levels of government. Because gender equality is everyone’s business, and we’ll work to make sure it stays that way.

The Hon. Daniel Andrews MP, Premier of Victoria

The Hon. Natalie Hutchins MP, Minister for Women

Illustration of diverse people