Media Release by The Hon Kate Ellis MP

New funding for women in the workplace

From today, businesses and working women will benefit from an $11.2 million boost from the Australian Government to improve gender equality in Australian workplaces.

The Minister for the Status of Women, Kate Ellis today announced the additional funding for the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency (EOWA), which is a key agency in the Government’s efforts to improve women’s workforce participation.

“We know that increasing women’s workforce participation is central to the profitability of individual businesses, as well as to the national economy,” Ms Ellis said.

“This increased funding will give EOWA the support it needs to work with business and drive better outcomes for employers and for working women and men.

“Our reforms have been introduced in direct response to calls made by business and the community.

“New legislation will be introduced later in the year to rename EOWA the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, giving it a renewed capacity to drive gender equality in Australian workplaces.

“The agency will have a new focus on women and men, particularly in relation to caring responsibilities and pay equity.

“The new funding will underpin a new streamlined reporting system, and improved advice and assistance to employers.

“The Australian Government is making a significant investment in the agency’s IT capacity so that reporting can be done online, saving employers time and money.

“Businesses will be able to access improved support and advice online, linking them to electronic tools, resources and live support.

“We want to ensure that the agency has the resources it needs to improve its educative and advisory role. Additional help will be available to those organisations who need it the most.

“Mobile support teams will be deployed to provide advice and assistance to businesses who request it. A key role for the agency will be the development and promotion of industry-based benchmarks.

“By updating and properly resourcing a quarter-century old framework, we are ensuring it delivers better outcomes for both business and for women and men.”

The Australian Government and the agency will be working with business and stakeholders to ensure a smooth transition to the new system. Reports under the new system will be due in 2013.