The ACT Government is working to achieve gender equity for ACT women and girls. We are collaborating across government and with the community to provide leadership, skills building and participation opportunities and to promote the safety, wellbeing and economic security of women.
The ACT Women’s Plan 2016–26 sets out the ACT Government’s priorities for improving outcomes for Canberra’s women and girls.
In the final year of the First Action Plan, the focus of work is to engage with women, community and business to ensure women’s voices are heard and reflected to inform the development of the Second Action Plan for 2020–22.
Promoting gender equality
Last year, the Government launched the ACT Diversity Register to support increasing the diversity of people on boards and committees. 48 per cent of positions on ACT Government boards and committees are now held by women, which is one of the best representation statistics in Australia.
The Audrey Fagan leadership programs offered by our Office for Women provide professional development opportunities for women and equips them with the skills and confidence to take on leadership roles. In 2018 we added a Board Traineeship Program to the existing Directorship Program, and in 2019 a new Leadership and Communication Program has also commenced.
To promote equality in sport, the ACT Government sponsors professional women’s teams, provides grants to local clubs to develop more female-friendly sporting infrastructure like change rooms, scholarships for elite female coaches and an online portal to connect women and girls with opportunities to get involved in sport and active recreation.
Supporting women at work
We are continuing to focus on diversity in employment-related training, with dedicated programs to engage vulnerable or at-risk cohorts.
The ACT Government is helping women to return to the workforce through individual grants totalling $160,000. The Return to Work grants program supports women who have been out of the paid workforce due to caring responsibilities for an extended period to re-enter employment by providing a grant to cover the cost of things like education and training or childcare.
The ACT Government is also has a number of initiatives to support women’s participation in traditionally male-dominated roles. In 2016, only 2.2 per cent of total apprenticeship commencements in trades were women. Our Women in Trades Grants Program is boosting opportunities for women and girls in non-traditional trades.
The Government is working with providers and businesses to help place more women on worksites across Canberra, as well as working with organisations to provide targeted support to mature aged workers.
On International Women’s Day 2019, Ms Emma Sckrabei was awarded ACT Woman of the Year for her work to improve the male-dominated construction industry.
ACT Government services are recruiting more women in historically male-dominated roles: 18 per cent more women are applying for custodial positions in Corrective Services than in 2014 and women represent 22 per cent of new recruits in ACT Fire & Rescue.
Other initiatives with ongoing support include:
- The ACT Women’s Awards, honouring women who have made an outstanding contribution to the lives of other women and girls in the ACT.
- The ACT Violence Prevention Awards, recognising projects and activities, or individuals who are making significant contributions to the prevention of violence against women and children in the ACT.
- Women’s Safety Grants, funding innovative projects to advance the priorities identified in the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children.
- The Women’s Directory and Women’s Information Service, providing an entry point to a wealth of information about government and non-government programs and services of interest to women in the ACT, as well as promoting courses, events, information sessions, support groups, training, programs, workshops and activities.
- Vocational and Educational Training opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, regularly promoted by the Canberra Institute of Technology.
- Forums hosted by the ACT Office for Women, bringing Government and community together to promote a culture of respect and equal opportunity.
- Specialised programs for women in detention, including Pathways from Prison, Circle of Security, PEACE Education, Exploring Being Your Own Boss, Community Service and Life Skills, Yurbay Workshops and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Yarning Circle.
- The Alexander Maconochie Centre bakery, providing women in detention with industry-specific skills they can use to reintegrate back into the wider community.
- The Women’s Care team, working with women in custody, inducting detainees, providing ongoing case management and coordination of services to support the rehabilitation and reintegration of women back into the community.
- Community Cultural Profiles, developed through research and consultation with community champions to better understand the ACT Health Community Profiles and health needs of women from diverse backgrounds. The profiles are assisting health care workers to better understand and appreciate possible cultural impacts on health in culturally and linguistically diverse communities.