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What’s underway: Recent Commonwealth actions

This Strategy is not the beginning. The Australian Government has already undertaken a range of actions and investments to progress gender equality.

Priority area 1: gender-based violence

A balance scale
  • Released the National Plan to End Violence against Women and Children 2022–2032, along with states and territories, to guide actions towards ending violence against women and children in Australia, as well as the First Action Plan and dedicated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Action Plan. The National Plan is supported by $2.3 billion in funding commitments.
  • Invested to support First Nations women's safety through the development of a standalone First Nations National Plan for Family Safety, and by providing over $200 million for a range of initiatives to address family safety and to Close the Gap. This includes for cultural healing services, to support National Family Violence Prevention Legal Service providers, to address safety and early intervention initiatives for First Nations Australians in Central Australia, to enable place-based initiatives in regional and remote Central Australia, and to fund Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service.
  • Taken action to improve consent and support respectful relationships, including investing in consent and respectful relationships education, social media resources for young people on consent and community-led sexual violence prevention pilots and releasing the Commonwealth Consent Policy Framework.
  • Improved criminal justice responses to sexual violence and reduced trauma for victim-survivors by supporting the Australian Law Reform Commission to undertake an inquiry into justice responses to sexual violence, informed by a national roundtable and a lived experience expert advisory group of victim-survivors and their advocates, and by developing an Action Plan Addressing Gender-based Violence in Higher Education to address sexual assault on campuses and improve student and staff safety.
  • Invested to prevent violence from happening in the first place, providing $104.4 million to Our Watch, Australia's national leader for the primary prevention of gender-based violence.
  • Reformed the Family Law System so that it is simpler, safer and more accessible for separating families and their children, including making changes to the Family Law Act 1975 and expanding programs in the Federal Circuit and Family Law Court of Australia. The Government has also supported Australia's implementation of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction to make it safer for women and children impacted by international parental child abduction.
  • Acted to prevent and respond to sexual harassment by supporting implementation of all recommendations of the Respect@Work: Sexual Harassment National Inquiry Report. This includes the introduction of a new positive duty on employers to prevent workplace sexual harassment, sex discrimination and harassment under the Sex Discrimination Act 1984. The Government is also supporting implementation of the Set the Standard: Report on the Independent Review into Commonwealth Parliamentary Workplaces.
  • Invested in access to housing for women and children experiencing family violence by establishing a $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund. This will support 30,000 social and affordable homes, with an intent to provide 4,000 homes for women and children impacted by family and domestic violence and older women at risk of homelessness. The Government has continued the Safe Places program, to increase crisis or emergency accommodation places for First Nations women and children, women and children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and women and children with disability. The Government has also provided investment to support homelessness services through the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement, alongside developing a new National Housing and Homelessness Plan.
  • Helped ensure women don't have to choose between their work and their safety by amending the Fair Work Act 2009 to introduce an entitlement to 10 days paid family and domestic violence leave.
  • Supported migrant and refugee women who experience violence by expanding family violence provisions within the Migration Regulations 1994, supporting visa holders experiencing domestic and family violence. The Government is also establishing a Forced Marriage Specialist Support Program.
  • Invested in frontline services for women experiencing domestic and family violence, extending the National Partnership on Family, Domestic and Sexual Violence Responses to provide $159 million for an additional 2 years and funding 500 frontline service and community workers, with support targeted to women and children in rural, regional and remote areas; First Nations people; the culturally and linguistically diverse community; women with disability; and the LGBTIQA+ community.
  • Supported a range of early intervention efforts to address violence, engage with men and boys and stop violence escalating, through a healthy masculinities project trial to combat harmful gender stereotypes perpetuated online; funding a new national early intervention trial for young men and boys who present with adverse experiences, including family and domestic violence, and who are at risk of perpetrating family, domestic or sexual violence; funding No to Violence for the Men's Referral Service and Brief Intervention Service; developing a perpetrator risk assessment framework for frontline service providers; extending the MensLine Changing for Good service; and developing a national perpetrator referral database of services to improve uptake of intervention services. Funding is also being provided to partner with states and territories to trial innovative responses to address the behaviour of perpetrators.
  • Improved data and reporting on domestic, family and sexual violence, by establishing a new statistical dashboard to provide more timely reporting on intimate partner homicide, to be introduced by mid-2024, and by working with states and territories to improve data sharing and support women's safety through the Data and Digital Ministers Council and Women and Women's Safety Ministers Council.
  • Released the National Principles to Address Coercive Control in Family and Domestic Violence, to inform more effective and consistent responses to family and domestic violence.
  • Invested in actions to prevent and respond to technology-facilitated abuse, including through the Preventing Tech-based Abuse of Women Grants Program; a National Roundtable on Online Dating Safety to improve safety for Australians using online dating platforms; and establishing the Online Harms Ministers Meeting to coordinate policy across the Australian Government to address online harms experienced by Australians.
  • Committed to establish a National Student Ombudsman, as part of an Action Plan to address gender-based violence in higher education, which has been agreed with state and territory Education Ministers.
  • Supported the Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence Commission to promote coordination across government and communities, monitor progress of the national plan, and amplify the voices of people with lived experience, including by establishing a lived experience advisory committee.

Priority area 2: unpaid and paid care

An alarm on a stack of books and the silhouette of an adult with two children
  • Improved and extended paid parental leave, investing $1.2 billion over 5 years to make the scheme more accessible, flexible and gender equitable, and increase the length from 20 to 26 weeks by July 2026, with 4 weeks reserved for each parent and up to 4 weeks that parents can take together. The Government also completed a review of the Maternity Leave (Commonwealth Employees) Act 1973 in 2023.
  • Invested $4.7 billion to make it easier and cheaper for parents to access early childhood education and care. This is supported by investment in the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) inquiry into the cost of child care, and the Productivity Commission inquiry to undertake a broad review of the childcare system to help chart the course for universal, affordable early childhood education and care. The Government has also provided families with First Nations children access to a minimum level entitlement of 36 hours per fortnight of subsidised early childhood education and care from July 2023. An investment of $72.4 million will build and retain the early childhood education and care workforce, 92% of whom are women. The Government is also developing an Early Years Strategy 2024-2034 to focus on the development and wellbeing of children in their early years.
  • Advocated for and invested in a pay rise for aged care workers, providing $11.3 billion to fund this increase for this workforce, which is overwhelmingly made up of women.
  • Invested to better value paid care work and feminised industries, by developing a National Strategy for the Care and Support Economy, which will set a vision for a sustainable and productive care and support economy that delivers quality care with quality jobs. The Government is establishing an Expert Panel on the Care and Community Sector in the Fair Work Commission; investing to address acute bottlenecks in the psychology training pipeline, with 80% of psychologists being women; expanding the Australian Apprenticeship Support Loans Scheme to provide interest-free loans of up to $24,492 in areas such as early childhood education, aged care and disability care; and supporting the delivery of the National Teacher Workforce Action Plan. The new 5-year National Skills Agreement includes up to an additional $2.4 billion to support state and territory training systems including in critical industries such as essential care services.

Priority area 3: economic equality and security

A house next to three building blocks stacked with coins
  • Delivered tax cuts through a gender lens to support participation and deliver a fairer share of tax relief and a tax cut for all women who pay tax.
  • Put gender equality at the heart of economic policy and decision-making through the re-introduction of gender responsive budgeting and gender impact assessments to the Commonwealth Budget process, and making gender equality a priority at the 2022 Jobs and Skills Summit, and in Working Future: the Australian Government's White Paper on Jobs and Opportunities.
  • Established a Women's Economic Equality Taskforce to provide advice to Government on key priorities for the 2023–24 Budget and recommendations for immediate and long-term actions in its final report, Women's Economic Equality: A 10-year-plan to unleash the full capacity and contribution of women to the Australian economy 2023–33.
  • Put gender equality at the heart of the workplace relations system, making gender equality an objective of the Fair Work Act 2009, banning pay secrecy, legislating a statutory equal remuneration principle and establishing an Expert Panel on Pay Equity in the Fair Work Commission. The Government has introduced new protected attributes in the Fair Work Act 2009 on breastfeeding, gender identity, subjection to family and domestic violence, and intersex status. The Government is providing funding for the Fair Work Commission to undertake a review of modern awards with priorities including consideration of the impact of workplace relations settings on work and care, and consideration of the need to improve access to secure work across the economy. The Fair Work Commission is also conducting a research project about occupational segregation and gender undervaluation. The Government introduced changes to unpaid parental leave to complement improvements to the Government's Paid Parental Leave Scheme and help families share work and caring responsibilities.
  • Improved support for women through the payments system, including the $1.9 billion expansion in the eligibility of the Parenting Payment Single to single principal carers, the majority of whom are women, with a youngest dependent child aged 8 to under 14 years of age. The Government has also provided $2.7 billion to increase the maximum payment rate of Commonwealth Rent Assistance by 15% for all recipients, with single women making up the largest proportion of recipients, and provided $4.9 billion to increase support for people receiving working age and student payments, including JobSeeker.
  • Made the child support scheme fairer by implementing legislation to improve the timely collection of child support owed to parents – who are overwhelmingly women – and help prevent future debt among low-income parents. The Government is building the evidence base for longer term improvements, looking at issues like noncompliance as a means of financial abuse, whether the child support formula reflects the current costs of raising children in Australia, and what can be done to support parents where private collect arrangements have broken down.
  • Announced the abolishing of the ParentsNext Program and the development of a replacement voluntary program to be introduced on 1 November 2024. As a first step, compulsory aspects of ParentsNext were paused from 5 May 2023.
  • Improved transparency and reporting on the gender pay gap, passing legislation to give effect to a range of recommendations from the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012 Review, including to publish gender pay gaps of employers with 100 or more workers – these were reported for the first time on 27 February 2024.
  • Invested in feminised industries to improve women's wages, including $560 million to support community sector organisations to meet additional cost pressures and through the Government's changes to indexation, including for organisations delivering women's safety initiatives. The Government has also introduced reforms so that, from 1 July 2026, employers are required to pay their employees' superannuation at the same time as their salary and wages, which overwhelmingly benefits women in service industries.
  • Supported women's representation and opportunities in traditionally male-dominated industries through the Australian Skills Guarantee, which includes national targets for women in apprenticeships, traineeships and cadetships. The Government is investing in Australia's vocational education and training (VET) system and addressing skills shortages; commissioning an independent Pathway to Diversity in STEM Review to evaluate existing women in STEM programs and make recommendations on the most effective approaches to improve equity and representation of women and other under-represented groups in STEM education and work; and also providing further funding for the Women in STEM and Entrepreneurships Grants program. The Government is supporting new digital career opportunities in the Australian Public Service (APS) through the APS Digital Traineeship Program, which supports priority groups – including women returning to the workforce or seeking a career change – to undertake a Certificate IV qualification and is funding support for women in male-dominated trade apprenticeships. Through its Cyber Security Strategy, the Government has committed to improving diversity of the cyber security workforce, and established a workstream for industry leaders to develop initiatives to improve the diversity of the cyber workforce. The Government has a released a Women in Aviation Initiative to improve retention in the industry and increase visibility and awareness of the sector among girls and women, and is working with states and territories regarding options to increase women's participation in major Commonwealth-funded infrastructure projects.
  • Supporting women's access to housing, through the $2 billion Social Housing Accelerator and the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement. The Home Guarantee Scheme has already helped over 13,000 women buy their own home since May 2022.
  • Invested in fee-free TAFE, supporting almost 300,000 students to enrol in 2023 (to 30 September) and making a further 300,000 places available for 2024 to 2026 – with women making up 60% of enrolments.
  • Investing up to $12.6 billion over 5 years through the National Skills Agreement, to support state and territory training systems and address national challenges such as sustaining essential care services, and to deliver reforms, for example to improve VET completions, including for women and others who face completion challenges.

Priority area 4: health

A stethoscope
  • Established the National Women's Health Advisory Council to provide advice to the Government on priority health issues for women and girls in Australia.
  • Invested in women's reproductive health through a $58.3 million package for endometriosis and pelvic pain, including the delivery of 22 Endometriosis and Pelvic Pain Clinics across all states and territories and investing in the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) to develop 'MenoPROMPT', a menopause assessment tool for women and general practitioners to improve perimenopause and post-menopause care.
  • Invested in support for positive body image, including for children to build and maintain positive body image and provided funding to enable Australians to continue to access support for eating disorders.
  • Supported women's health needs, introducing a new Medical Benefits Schedule (MBS) item to determine a patient's risk of recurrent breast cancer and expanding access to critical drugs for treating women's cancers on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). The Government is also providing funding for the Glen for Women, which provides First Nations women with culturally appropriate alcohol and other drug treatment services.
  • Investment in pregnancy and peri-and post-natal support, including to extend the Australian Red Cross Lifeblood's role to maintain and expand delivery of donor milk across Australia, and to support the Australian Breastfeeding Association's National Breastfeeding Helpline. Funding is being provided for 12 new perinatal mental health centres across Australia and to expand the pregnancy and postnatal guidelines for expectant parents, including resources for healthcare workers supporting culturally and linguistically diverse people and First Nations people. The Government is also enhancing support for bereaved parents, and increasing the number of autopsies and investigations undertaken after a stillbirth. Support for First Nations mothers is provided through a dedicated Birthing on Country Centre of Excellence to be built in Nowra, NSW.
  • Improved access to medical support and advice, by introducing a new MBS item for consultations of 60 minutes or more, which are often used by women, to support improved access and affordability for patients with chronic conditions and complex needs.
  • Invested in research and data lead by women health researchers, creating targets for the NHMRC to award equal numbers of Investigator Grants to women and men, leading to 2023 being the first year that women applicants will receive an overall greater proportion of the funds, and investing in health and medical research and data collection focusing on women's and girls' health outcomes.

Priority area 5: leadership, representation and decision-making

A cut-out figure in a dress on a wooden block
  • Lifted Australia's overall ranking in the World Economic Forum Gender Gap Report to 26th out of 146, compared to 43rd in 2022.
  • Improved representation of women in parliament, as the first majority woman Commonwealth Government. In the 47th Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia 44.5% of seats across both chambers are held by women – the highest recorded number of women in an Australian parliament.
  • Invested to equip and encourage women across the political spectrum to run for public office at local, state and federal levels, providing $5 million to Women for Election Australia.
  • Increased the representation of women on Australian Government boards to a record 51.6% in 2023.
  • Supported an increase in nominations of women for the Order of Australia, leading a targeted communications campaign to encourage more nominations for women. Women made up more than 50% of award winners for the first time since 1975 at the Kings Birthday Honours in 2023, then again in the Australia Day 2024 Honours List.
  • Supported representation of women and girls in sport, through establishing the $200 million Play our Way program to promote equal access, building more suitable facilities, and supporting grassroots initiatives to get women and girls to engage and participate in sport throughout their lives. The Government is also developing a national sports plan, which envisions enhancing diversity, inclusion and equity in sport for all Australians, including women and girls, and supporting women's and girls' participation in talent and development programs to increase female representations in coaching, officiating and sports administration. To help protect sporting participants against discrimination, abuse and mistreatment, the Government is establishing a Safety in Sport Division for Sport Integrity Australia.
  • Implemented a transparent and merit-based judicial appointments process which ensures all candidates from a diversity of backgrounds have the opportunity to apply, in response to recommendations under the Australian Law Reform Commission's report, Without Fear or Favour: Judicial Impartiality and the Law on Bias.
  • Endorsed the Equal by 30 campaign to work towards equal pay, leadership and opportunities for women in the clean energy sector.
  • Established a new Centre for Arts and Entertainment Workplaces to ensure creative workers are paid fairly and have safe workplaces free from harassment and discrimination.
  • Supported delivery of Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women's Voices), which was led by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, June Oscar AO.
  • Been a committed global champion of the United Nations Women, Peace and Security agenda, which aims to ensure equal participation of women at all levels of decision-making.

Equality cannot be achieved without women from a range of backgrounds meaningfully participating in decision-making.