Media Release by The Hon Julie Collins MP

House passes gender equality in the workplace legislation

New legislation supporting gender equality in the workplace has passed through the House of Representatives today.

The Minister for Status of Women, Julie Collins MP, has welcomed the passage in the House of the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Amendment Bill 2012 as another key Gillard Government reform to advance gender equality.

“I look forward to the legislation passing through the Senate as soon as possible,” Ms Collins said.

“This legislation is a significant step towards the removal of barriers to women’s full and equal participation in the workplace.

“I’m disappointed that the Coalition voted against the Bill despite our considerable consultation with business, employee organisations and the women’s sector that led to this balanced legislation.

“However, this is not a surprise coming from a party that is on the record saying gender equality should just be an ‘aspirational goal’.

“The proposed new law will help increase women’s participation in the workforce and their economic security.

“The name of the proposed new law – the Workplace Gender Equality Act – reflects our objective for equality between women and men.

“It includes men and recognises their needs, especially in caring responsibilities as parents.

“Both women and men will have equal options to balance their paid work and caring obligations.

“It also focuses on equal remuneration, recognising that closing the gender pay gap is central to achieving equality.

“An Australian woman on average still earns around 17 per cent less than a man and that gender pay gap remains one of the highest in three decades.

“It has been estimated that closing the gap between men’s and women’s workforce participation could increase Gross Domestic Product by up to 13 per cent.

“This Act is about supporting businesses to achieve cultural change and reap the rewards of diverse and equal workplaces.

“This legislation makes a clear statement that true equality is essential for a fair society and a strong economy,” Ms Collins said

“I thank business, employee organisations and the women’s sector for their part in helping to develop the legislation and look forward to continuing to work with them in its implementation.”


Comments on the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace legislation

Jane Counsel, Head of Diversity and Flexibility, Westpac Group:

“We believe the EOWA reforms will provide a catalyst to drive concrete change through creating more focus, accountability and transparency to ensure all organisations are committed to delivering more inclusive and flexible workplaces.”

YWCA Australia Executive Director, Dr Caroline Lambert:

“YWCA Australia commends the Government for taking action to strengthen the tools for gender equality in the workplace.

“YWCA Australia welcomes the focus in the Bill on caring responsibilities. It is important that business work towards outcomes that will enable both women and men to combine work and family responsibilities.”

Stephen Roberts, CEO of Citi Australia:

“I welcome this legislation and the contribution it will make to improving gender diversity in the workforce.

“In particular, I believe expanding the Act to include men, reporting and sharing of outcomes rather than policies, and a reduction in red tape are valuable steps in building a more diverse workforce.

“A diverse team is invariably smarter, more resilient and more productive – all of which is required for success in business. “

Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Elizabeth Broderick:

“The removal of the barriers that prevent women from full and equal participation in the workplace is something that needs real, ongoing and measurable strategies.

“The emphasis in this Bill on improving gender equality outcomes between both women and men, including pay equity and caring responsibilities and the shift to businesses reporting on outcomes, is to be applauded.”