National Council of Women of Victoria

News and Calendar of Events

Calendar of Events

Latest News

May Forum 2020: Gender Equity in Workplaces

The National Council of Women of Victoria’s May Forum was cancelled due to COVID-19. The focus “Gender Equity in Workplaces”, instead became the topic for our May ZOOM Council Meeting.

One of the proposed forum panel members, Professor Beth Gaze spoke at this meeting. Beth teaches Equality and Discrimination Law and Administrative Law at Melbourne Uni Law School. Her research interests are in anti-discrimination and equality law, feminist legal thought, administrative law and socio-legal research. She has conducted research into the enforcement process under Australian anti-discrimination law, experiences of applicants in the social security appeal tribunals, and the operation of adverse action provisions of the Fair Work Act. Beth spoke about the new Victorian Government Gender Equality Act 2020.

The Act seeks to promote and improve gender equality across the Victorian public sector, local councils and universities. It involves innovative powers and processes that have not previously been used in Australian law. It will commence on 31st March 2021. The government is working on developing the framework for its implementation, driven by the Minister for Women, the Hon Gabrielle Williams, with input from the public including a Citizen’s Jury. It aims to take necessary and proportionate action towards achieving gender equality in policies and programs and delivering public services. Organisations need to undertake workplace gender audits, to assess gender equality and inequality in the workplace. These must be based on gender-disaggregated data and, if available, data about Aboriginality, age, disability, race, ethnicity, gender identity, religion and sexual orientation. They need to develop and implement Gender Equality Action Plans in 2021, updated every four years, with Progress shown every two years against gender equality indicators. The Minister is also required to develop a State Gender Equality Action Plan every four years that will set a framework for taking coordinated action in Victoria to build behavioural, attitudinal, structural and normative change to improve gender equality, including a framework for progress on workplace gender equality, programs and services. The Office for Women is developing guidance documents to support organisations in doing the audit, action plan, assessment and progress reporting. The Act also provides for creating gender targets or quotas requiring these to be taken into account in gender audits with ‘reasonable and material progress’ to be made towards targets and quotas, a first in Australian equality law.

Dr Deborah Towns OAM then spoke on other Gender Equity issues. The private sector is covered nationally by the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012. Commonwealth Government in 1984 introduced the Sex Discrimination Act. Other legislation at State and Federal level have passed, with Human Rights Commissioner and officer appointments.

Progress towards equal pay has a longer history. In 1903 equal pay for equal work was on the agenda at NCWV’s Congress. The industrial relations system endorsed this in 1969. However, there is still a gender wage gap today, with overall gender pay gap of 13.9% in Australia for full-time workers. When broken down into sectors it gets interesting, e.g., in finance and insurance where 1000s of women work the pay gap is 22%, also in professional, scientific and technical work; and 22.3% in health care and social services. In education and public administration (70% are women) the pay gap is 12%. Many women work in caring, cleaning, catering and retail, often not full-time, poorly paid, with little opportunity to adequately support themselves, or their families if they are sole parents, and save for their retirement through superannuation and in other ways.

The Male Champions of Change was established in 2010 to lead action on gender equality in workplaces, now with over 200 leaders of business, government, universities and military representing many different workplaces across Australia. They publish annual reports on progress and guidelines on how workplaces can change gender pay gap. Despite this there has been little to no change.

59th Australia Day Pioneer Women’s Ceremony, 20th January 2020, Women’s Peace Garden

This event was a great success with 50 members and quite a few guests. Girl Guides Victoria provided the Colour Party and all sang the National Anthem. The focus this year was on Pioneer Women in the Environment and Conservation. We were privileged to have Pam Robinson OAM as speaker, a founding member of Landcare.

Click to download the program

Pam said we can consider ‘Pioneer’ in the historical sense - relating to a person in a bygone time. It is important to recognise and respect past Pioneers, strides made by them that have brought us to where we are now, but also important for younger people to see that they can become a Pioneer in “their time’’ to be able to leave their legacy of endeavour. Pam acknowledged Indigenous people who have managed the land for millennia, quoting award winners, the Woka Walla Land Management Crew, who have been operating for seven years across northern Victoria where they have done cultural identification and protection, cultural burning, pest plant and animal control. The crew members have an unbroken link to the land through their families and have responsibility for Caring for Country which connects them to their ancestors.

Two Past Pioneers - women often referred to as the ‘Mothers of Landcare’ came from different backgrounds, but understood in the 1980s that if a new community program was to be established working with natural resources, enhancing environment, delivering sustainable farming practices, it needed to be a bipartisan approach. Joan Kirner AC and Heather Mitchell OBE AM - one a Labor Government Minister (later Premier), the other President of the conservative Victorian Farmers Federation, understood a bipartisan collaborative approach would achieve more – Landcare was born. The first Landcare Group was announced in 1986. Land Protection and other activities that people were undertaking continued in the Landcare theme. There are nearly 600 Landcare groups and 500 Friends of Groups in Victoria. The Australian Government introduced a National Landcare Program with a bipartisan approach. Also, there is Australian Landcare International, a non-profit organisation.

Landcare has no age barrier and Pam encouraged all to become involved with a local group. “We can go from sitting on the sidelines saying ‘THEY ORTA’ be doing this and that – we can decide that - We will take up the leadership position for the future of our environment and conservation by saying in a renewed bipartisan and collective voice ‘We Orta’ WE WILL and WE ARE’.”

Click here for the speech.

 

NCWV End of Year Festive Luncheon, 25th November, 2019

No one in the room could fail to be moved by the words of our speaker Selba Gondonza Luka. Her organisation, Afri-Aus Care is such a boon to her community, contending with the many problems, particularly of young people, encountered when beginning life in a new country. Malawian-born, Selba Gondoza Luka is a Mental Health Clinician specialising in at-risk Youth within the African and CALD (Culturally and Linguistically Diverse) communities. Selba, inspired by her own experiences of domestic abuse and the long process of repairing a fractured relationship with her daughter, came out of the darkness and founded Afri-Aus Care in 2015. The incorporated community organisation is located in Dandenong, Springvale and Pakenham offering biopsychosocial and well-being risk assessment and counselling. Their volunteers are qualified case workers, social workers and psychologists, along with representatives from CALD communities who are able to engage with their clients in a culturally appropriate way. Passionate about breaking the Youth-Prison cycle for many, and closing the gap of Inter-generational Conflict, Selba has been a pivotal foundation for many troubled and fractured families to stabilize on as they take major steps along the path of recovery. Her experience in understanding Youth needs, led to her turning to sport as a Primary Intervention tool and in 2016, along with Jamy Alex, founded the Men’s and Women’s Black Rhinos Peregrine Falcons Basketball and Soccer Clubs. Since their creation the Clubs have worked both inside and outside of prisons to help many more Youth repair the impact of their missteps. This has ensured they forge stronger, positive relationships with their families, broader communities, government and private organisations. Afri-AusCare also offers cooking, gardening, sewing, drug and alcohol diversion programs and education support, also referrals to specific health organisations. NCWV donated $500 to this charity at the end of lunch.

Selba was awarded the Phonse Tobin Award and Meritorious Service to the Community (Voluntary Work) by Victorian Multicultural Commission and shortlisted as one of the 50 Most inspiring African Australians in 2019. Well deserved!

We also had the pleasure of two flautists from Westall Sec College, Emily and Mai, playing carols as people arrived, then ‘In an English Country Garden’ between Entrée and Main course. Absolutely delightful.

NCWV May Forum: Safe Streets for Women & Girls

Held on: 2 May 2019, 10:00-11:30am
ICW-CIF theme: Social protection for all women and girls: Sustainable development for the world This Forum conforms with SDG 11 “… make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”.

The focus of the May Forum was on what makes a Safe City/Safe Streets. This includes wide streets, pedestrian malls, good visibility, good lighting and clear signage. Everything that is considered to be good planning. The Forum was very well received with positive feed-back, evaluation forms indicated the subject was interesting and topical. An outcome from the Forum for NCWV to pursue, would be the safety of bicycle trailers for children, raised in a question by Janice Latham. There is opportunity for us to monitor the movement and safety of pedestrians and cyclist in the City, also the city lighting to give feed back to the Town Hall. Members could note issues in their area for feedback to local Council.

Martin and Phuong, VicRoads presenters for Safe System Road Infrastructure Program (SSRIP), part of Regional Roads Victoria (RRV), outlined the improvements to accessibility and safety for pedestrians and cyclists being delivered through the SSRIP – Pedestrian Area program, Safer Cycling program and Safe Travel in Local Streets program.

On average there are 40 pedestrian deaths per year and over 500 serious injuries, almost half of which are female. Pedestrians aged 65 and over represent almost one third of the total, with females being just over 50%. This is far too high – we would like it to be zero, but there is a lot of work to do. To help promote active transport (i.e. walking and cycling), RRV encourages councils to:

SSRIP developed a hot spot map to target areas with highest densities of fatal and serious injury (FSI) crashes, then contacted those councils to get as many involved as possible. There is a budget of $31 million over 31 councils for this program, including development and evaluation to be completed by 2020. Councils were offered access to funding for development, so that they could engage consultants to develop projects without budget risk.

These include Bayside roundabout crossings, Wombat crossings, Countdown timers, strategic cycling corridors, Protected intersections which provide a safer passage by enabling cyclists to hook turn, let cyclists do left turns more easily, and make it easier for drivers to see cyclists. There is also a Blind Spot Mirror Trial to help cyclists and drivers see each other better and reduce risk of trucks turning into cyclist.

Transport Accident Commission – TAC has made grants available to councils to help them provide better facilities for walking and cycling. VicRoads has grants for local community groups to promote road safety in local areas.

Hoa Yang, ARUP Design Consultant, outlined the findings from a research collaboration between Monash University’s XYX Lab and ARUP. Over the past year, they have analysed lighting measurements across 80 different sites in the City of Melbourne to find practical measures around how we can use lights to make our city feel safer at night time. This project uses a human-centred design approach to generate a framework to understand what lighting qualities give a perception of safety. The research data collected are the beginning of a knowledge bank that gives designers a better understanding of how light impacts urban experiences in Melbourne.

The rate of development in lighting technology in the past decade allows lighting design to be cost effectively customisable and tailored to the individual experience. The amount of design decisions that can be made due to these advances, position lighting as a key enabler of smart design.

New and retro-fitted lighting opportunities are happening all around the world, presenting an opportunity for city design to use light to curate positive experiences.

The current Australian lighting standards for pedestrians are based on pre-LED technology and are in need of a re-think. The standards revolve around the amount of light falling on a surface, and do not consider the perception of brightness and experience of the larger urban context by its users. The tendency in designing for public spaces to choose a worst-case scenario by stakeholders to de-risk, too often resulting in a poor lit outcome. This design approach often leads to over lighting spaces resulting in negative experiences of the space due to glare, also contributing to light pollution and excess energy consumption. Safe perceptions of spaces correlate generally with a higher level of colour rendering, suggesting that distinguishing shapes and colours more accurately makes people perceive spaces as safer. This validates current design principles where people feel more comfortable in warm coloured light. The research has created the largest sample of night time analysis known to the researchers globally.

The findings from the measurements have allowed definition of a baseline for the lighting qualities that contribute to a safe perception of space in Melbourne for young women and girls. Contact: hoa.yang@arup.com

Nancy Pierorazio, Senior Policy Officer City Safety, Social Investment branch, City of Melbourne: Designing in safety for women, outlined City of Melbourne’s commitment to preventing violence against women, promoting women’s safety and advancing gender equality in the municipality and workplace. City of Melbourne projects include: “Women in the life of the city”, a partnership with Victorian Women’s Trust to develop a list of notable women to address the gender bias in street names. Since the introduction of this list, three new streets/lanes have been named: Warrior Woman Lane (Lisa Bellear), Hoff Boulevard (Dr Ursula Hoff), Bale Circuit (Alice Marian Ellen Bale).

“Girls Walk, Melbourne CBD”, Working with Plan International to pilot their Free to Be campaign in Melbourne: Hosted Girls walk of Melbourne CBD; Free to be digital mapping tool; Design thinking workshop (led by XYX Lab).

“Women’s Right to Walk Freely” Partnership with Victoria Police, Victoria Point Owners Corporation and Plan International to better understand safety issues and needs of women and girls who live, work and visit the Stadium Precinct and Docklands. Project involved: Day and night safety audit of precinct; Girls walk: Plan youth activists and local female residents took decision makers on a walk to share experiences; Safety audit report and recommendations provided to Victoria Point Owners Corporation and Development Victoria.

“Safe Nights Out for Women (SNOW)” Pilot of a gender and safety audit tool in five licensed venues to help identify design elements and management practices that may facilitate sexual harassment in and around licensed venues. “Equality (Art) Works” Commissioned female artists to deliver public art work by and for women:

“Guide to reporting sexist advertising” Helps people navigate process for formal complaints; provides links to online advocacy tools; encourages community to play an active role in challenging culture of violence against women.

Projects underway:

Q&A Session raised the following issues, responses included:

The May Forum, “Families: Support for Children”, held on May 3rd 2018, was well attended by NCWV members. This was chaired by May Hu JP OAM, Coordinator NCWV Standing Committee, and moderated by Elida Brereton, Executive NCWV and Board member of the Hornbrook Academy. Anne McLeish OAM, CEO Grandparents/Kindship Carers Victoria spoke on ‘Family Rights’ saying it’s important that grandparents have their voices heard and that in Victoria there is insufficient representation for children. Dr Allison Cox, Berry St Director of Take 2 Program, which provides therapeutic services for traumatised children to achieve physical and emotional safety for them via work on attachment. In 2015/16 in Aus. there were 13,000 children in out of home care. Liana Buchanan, Principal Commissioner for Children and Young People spoke on ‘Human Rights in the home: Children’s rights to safety, care and protection’. She has an oversight to children’s services, including enquiries about individual children and systemic issues. There is a huge underestimation of danger to children in family violence. Anne recommended a statewide symposium, with relevant politicians and organisations included to come up with positive recommendations. This will be linked to other NCWV Respect projects such as Troubled Youth.

Full report by Terri Dry click here

Anne McLeish OAM, Dr Allison Cox, Liana Buchanan

 

youngncwv

Strategic planning advice obtained by NCWV from Deakin University and the pink paper exercise from early 2013 confirmed the urgent need for National Council of Women of Victoria to bridge the generation gap by embracing the new social media and to find ways of involving younger women in its work.

In order to create a framework to engage younger women, we looked for an opportunity to have some young women to take on a task that could be successfully accomplished within a given time frame.

The idea is to get the under 30s to facilitate the involvement of the secondary students in the NCWV project ‘My Vote, My Voice’ linked to the Victorian Electoral Commission Passport to Democracy program.

We have been trying to involve younger women through one or another of our affiliate or partner organisations working under the supervision of an experienced NCWV member.

Thanks to some great work by the younger women with whom we already have contact, we now have a social media set up for YoungNCWVIC. This will help their work with us on projects like the My Vote, My Voice students event at the Parliament of Victoria each year.

The Gmail address is youngncwvic@gmail.com and a blog has been created at the youngncwvic Wordpress page linked with with Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Hootsuite links. Tumblr is a way of enabling students to post photographs of themselves working on the presentations they will bring to the Parliament if they choose to speak at our annual event and thus helps build momentum for engagement in the project, as well as act as a base set of information about the progress of the project.

For more information on this year's My Vote, My Voice event click here

Instilling Respect For Women Starts From The Ground Up!

Women have rights and responsibilities.
All women are deserving of respect.

The NCWV has produced this brochure to raise awareness among affiliates, organisations and individuals about women’s rights and responsibilities. Please feel free to print the brochure and use it as a starting point for raising awareness and discussion in your organisation or with others who may find it useful.

>> Click here to download the brochure.