The First Action Plan is well on its way to full delivery
Year two of the First Action Plan 2017-19 under the ACT Women’s Plan 2016-26 concluded in March 2019. The First Action Plan represents an ambitious commitment to deliver one hundred actions over three years. The results demonstrate the cross‑government commitment to improve the lives of women and girls in the ACT.
96% of the 100 actions to be delivered under the First Action Plan are completed or underway
The Office for Women will continue to work closely across the ACT Government to support the delivery of the remaining actions. This document outlines some of the key initiatives delivered through year 2 of the First Action Plan. More detailed information on individual actions is available at the following link: First Action Plan: Year Two detailed reporting.
The Second Action Plan will build on what we have learned
The First Action Plan was structured around building the knowledge base (Year One); developing and implementing practical solutions (Year Two) and consolidating and reviewing processes (Year Three).
Year three reporting is currently scheduled for release in early 2020, alongside the Second Action Plan 2020‑22. Year three reporting will reflect on how the Second Action Plan process was informed by the learnings from the First Action Plan.
Some key highlights from year two
Year two of the First Action Plan saw the implementation of many important initiatives to improve the participation and opportunities available for ACT women and girls. This includes work aimed at:
Continuing to boost opportunities in non-traditional trades for women and girls
The ACT Government’s Women in Trades Grants Program was established in March 2018 to boost opportunities for women and girls in trades that they have not traditionally participated in. The program provides $500,000 in competitive grants over three years to support a small number of highly targeted projects that:
- increase the take up of women in male dominated trades;
- improve and expand employer-apprentice connections addressing barriers for employers and women to link and network; and
- contribute to the understanding of best practices for recruiting and retaining women in trades and being able to promulgate findings more broadly.
The first round of grants was made in June 2018. A second round of grants was announced in November 2018, with the focus on improved advocacy, engagement and information-sharing for women employed in, or interested in being employed in, male-dominated trades.
Five projects under this second round commenced in June 2019, one of which will support up to 20 women to enter the construction industry.
Other projects aim to reduce the barriers faced by women in, or wanting to enter trades, including occupational gender stereotypes, workplace issues, and lack of exposure to using tools at a young age.
All ACT public servants will now be trained to identify and respond to family violence
The ACT Government is committed to developing a skilled and educated workforce who are equipped to respond to the needs of adults and children experiencing family violence. The ACT Domestic and Family Violence Frontline Worker Training (FWT) Strategy delivers on this commitment.
The FWT Strategy is now in place and provides ACTPS workers training on DFV to develop the skills and confidence to respond to children and adults impacted by DFV. All ACT public servants will be trained in identifying domestic and family violence, including controlling and coercive behaviours, how to respond to victims and where to find them help. The training will provide an understanding of the cumulative and traumatic impacts of DFV for women and children in both the immediate and long term.
The training is delivered in three tiers to match the intensity and complexity to the needs of different workers across the ACTPS.
Supporting local indigenous women on their terms
During 2018, the CIT Yurauna Centre established a learning and yarning circle for women to address issues they face in their day-to-day lives. The group met weekly and through art activities, the women were encouraged to discuss issues preventing them from further study.
CIT has also been working with women to encourage community connection and has seen increased numbers of women taking up the opportunity to complete the Learner Driver course offered through CIT Yurauna, improving their mobility and breaking down feelings of isolation.
Improving housing support and sustainability and reducing homelessness for women
The Housing and Homelessness Summit in 2017 was the culmination of seven weeks of extensive consultation with the community to inform future housing and homelessness policy. Feedback from this consultation significantly shaped the development of the ACT Housing Strategy and informed the development of initiatives for women and children in relation to housing and homelessness.
Funding of $6.524 million over four years was allocated in the 2018-19 Budget to help services intervene early and support people before their situation gets worse. A range of dedicated services that will support women have been funded.
A service to support older women is seeking to:
- prevent older women from falling into crisis and experiencing homelessness without appropriate intervention;
- address key emerging service gaps for older women who have limited financial means and whose current housing situation is untenable.
Other services are being established to:
- prevent children from entering into the statutory child protection system by supporting young mothers gain vital education and training and life skills;
- support asylum seekers and families with uncertain immigrations status who are homeless or at risk of homelessness by providing housing assistance and support to gain community connections, employment, education and training while their immigration status is being resolved; and
- improving accommodation support for women and children escaping family and domestic violence.
This funding complements the funding allocated to front line crisis workers, such as the Domestic Violence Crisis Service (DVCS) and the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre, by increasing accommodation and support for women who are fleeing violent relationships.
Improving support for a woman’s right to choose
The ACT Government has long supported a women’s right to choose. The ACT has historically been a pioneer in abortion law reform by making abortion a health, not a criminal, matter and introducing exclusion zones.
Legislative amendments in September 2018 now allow medical terminations to be accessed through a local GP or telehealth provider, for the first time in the ACT. This brings access for Canberra women in line with other jurisdictions.
The amendments remove some of the barriers women in Canberra face when they are looking to access healthcare, and give women a greater choice of confidential and safe abortion services.
Prioritising projects that promote the emotional and psychological wellbeing of ACT women
The ACT Women’s Grants Program provides funding support to individuals, organisations and community groups for innovative projects that improve the health, wellbeing and safety of ACT women.
In 2018-19, in response to an action under the First Action Plan, the Participation Grants (which form part of the Women’s Grants Program) supported programs, research or projects that will impact positively on women and girl’s health and wellbeing.
The newly established Audrey Fagan Leadership and Communication Program is also available to women wanting to gain confidence, enhance their leadership skills and to better their public speaking skills. The program includes a series of tailored workshops and coaching sessions as well as a suite of resources and materials.
Supporting improved gender equality in Canberra workplaces
The ACT Government is committed to improving gender equality in all avenues of society including in Canberra workplaces. The Office for Women is developing an e-learning training package which will cover numerous topics relating to improved gender equality in the workplace, including recruitment, gender equality strategies, gender impact analysis and flexible working arrangements. This e-learning package is being developed to support all ACT Government Directorates and the broader ACT community and will be made publicly available with supporting resources on the Office for Women website.
The ACT Government is also leading by example in providing a Women’s Mentoring Program for female staff across the ACT Public Service. This program aims to maximise opportunities for mentees to build their capabilities and career development opportunities, and to foster gender equity and its value in the workplace. The pilot program also sought to support higher performance of individuals and demonstrate the value that diversity in leaders can bring to the ACT Public Service.
The pilot program was launched in October 2018 and feedback from participants indicates a strong support for broader rollout of the pilot program. The ACT Government is currently considering options for continued roll out of this program.
Increasing the number of women in leadership positions
The ACT Government is committed to improving the participation of women in leadership roles in the workplace, and on boards and committees across the ACT.
In support of this, under the First Action Plan the ACT Government introduced a requirement for triennially funded ACT sporting organisations to achieve a target of 40 per cent representation of females on their boards by 2020. Achieving this target will result in greater gender equality within the governance of sporting organisations in the ACT.
In late 2018, ACT Sport and Recreation reviewed the board composition of all 28 triennially funded organisations. Nine organisations (33%) had already met the requirement with at least 40% female representation, with a further six having 30% or more female representation. Since this review several more major sports organisations have now complied with the target. Organisations are required to report their achievement against the target in annual reports to ACT Sport and Recreation.
Better understanding how the ACT Budget impacts women and girls
The Minister for Women released the ACT Women’s Budget Statement 2019-20 in June 2019 as part of the ACT Budget, the first Women’s Budget Statement released in the ACT in many years.
This Statement provides details of new Budget measures that significantly impact on women or gender equality in the ACT. The Minister sought input from the community and women’s sector about improvements to the Statement for future years.
The 2019-20 ACT Budget provides funding for new and enhanced policies and programs to support and improve the lives of women and girls in the ACT. Additional funding identified in the Statement will help to ensure that women and girls can access the opportunities they need to thrive.
Supporting the development of policies, programs and services that consider their gender impact
Many of the actions under the First Action Plan have sought to support policy and decision-makers to better understand gender equality to improve the development of policies, programs and services.
It is now mandatory for all ACT Government directorates to undertake a Gender Impact Analysis for all policies progressing through the Cabinet process. An updated Gender Impact Analysis tool including guidance material and template has been developed through the First Action Plan, to support ACT Government directorates to do this effectively.