The Victorian State Budget, the first with a dedicated Gender Responsive Budget Unit and an operational Gender Equality Act 2020, has delivered promising steps towards a gender equal recovery from COVID19.
Our members called, in their State Budget Submission 22/23, for a COVID19 Recovery and Resilience Budget, which saw dedicated gender equity investments in healthcare. Women and non-binary people are sick of small change investment and being overlooked when tailored healthcare solutions are needed. The Budget delivered but there is more to do.
In this edition of our newsletter we’re highlighting the big wins for gender equity that GEN VIC is proud to have been a part of making a reality. If you’d like a full outline of the investments for gender equity, be sure to read the Gender Equality Budget Statement from the Minister for Women, Gabrielle Williams.
Don’t forget to scroll to the bottom of our analysis for more information on our exclusive seminar series on understanding state budgets and gender responsive budgeting.
Gender Equal Health
We’re pleased to see an acknowledgement from Government of the importance of dedicated primary prevention investment for Women’s Health.
Over two years, $19.4 million will be delivered to Women’s Health Services across both metropolitan and regional Victoria, and for the first time Women with Disabilities Victoria will receive funding to address the health prevention needs of women with disabilities. There’s more work to embed Rainbow Health into the program and indigenous women, but we’re pleased to see Trans and Gender Diverse in Community Health Programs announced as part of the LGBTIQ+ Strategy.
There were other sources of good news for gender equal health:
- 7000 new health workers, including 5000 new nursing staff
- Funding for Breastscreen Victoria to deliver additional screening
- strengthened community mental health responses for group-based parenting sessions & to address eating disorders through the Eating Disorders Victoria and the Centre for Excellence in Eating Disorders
The Premier said at the Budget Breakfast, “a care agenda isn’t just about dignity and saving lives, it’s also an economic agenda.”
We couldn’t agree more.
Strengthening Gender Equity
We know that many GENVIC members rely on government setting aside dedicated investment in gender equity and women’s policy and programs. For many, the women’s portfolio is the only place in the budget they can rely on for initiating new projects, addressing areas of priority and correcting centuries of economic, social and other forms of gender disadvantage.
That’s why we keep a close eye on the investment that is made especially to women and addressing gender inequity.
In 22/23, $8.4M has been allocated Women’s Policy, with the majority of those funds being directed to support the Gender Equality Act 2020 implementation, including more resources for Gender Impact Assessment work, a new reporting platform and dispute resolution case management system. There is also funding for a new Women of Colour Leadership Program.
While these announcements are exciting, we are disappointed not to see any funding available for women’s programs or gender equity activities – such as International Women’s Day, cultural activities and awards – of our members.
As the graph below shows, the funding for dedicated gender equity and women’s policy remains low. While Minister Williams has repeatedly shown herself to be a good advocate during budget cycles, the under investment persists with women’s policy receiving only 0.1% of the share of the State Budget. If we want this to change our members will need to have an eye towards the coming State Election.
The Gender Equality Budget Statement, provides a more promising picture of how gender is being applied across the budget to improve outcomes for women. This year, with the introduction of the first Gender Responsive Budget Unit embedded within the Department of Treasury and Finance, the Government identified $940M of initiatives dedicated to addressing gender inequity. This amounts to an 11% share of the total State Budget investment for 22/23.
We’re pleased to see investment in the decriminalisation of sex work provided through both the justice and the fairness portfolios. This will see GEN VIC’s member Vixen Collective, Victoria’s only peer-based sex worker organisation, funded for the first time. We’re excited to see autonomy for sex workers recognised in the state budget.
Victims of sexual violence and harm received investment in the wake of the Victorian Law Reform Commission recommendations and we’re delighted to see Sexual Assault Services Vic, also a GENVIC member, supported with this funding.
GEN VIC member, Women in Mentoring, also secured funds of $3.5M to ensure its work within the justice system continues.
Our advocacy to ensure that the Gender Responsive Budget Unit transitioned from the Women’s Portfolio to becoming Business as Usual in Treasury has made progress, with a further $1.1 million dedicated to the retention and growth of that unit coming from the Department of Treasury and Finance. We are also looking forward to working with the government to strengthen gender responsive budgeting after the recent Public Accounts and Estimates Committee (PAEC) Gender Responsive Budgeting Inquiry recommendations.
While we welcome additional funding for the female dominated community sector, nursing, and the health care workforce, as well as the sick pay guarantee, we hoped to see increased dedicated investment in addressing the causes of women’s economic insecurity – projects that address the underlying attitudes and behaviours that deliver unequal economic outcomes. We await with interest the recommendations of the Inquiry into Economic Equity for Victorian Women and hope this will be an opportunity for further progress.
Learn more about State Budgets with our Member Seminar Series
If you want to learn more about State Budgets and Gender Responsive Budgeting, join GEN VIC for the second in our members only seminar series on understanding state budgets. Join our CEO Tanja Kovac, Economist and Researched Dr Monica Costa and Director of Finance Regulation for the Victorian Depratment of Treasury and Finance Claire Bickell for this vital seminar.
If you’re not yet a member of GEN VIC, it’s not too late to join. Join here to get access to this exclusive seminar and all previous seminar recordings.
Thursday 12th May | 12:00 – 2:00pm | Online | Register here
Understanding State Budgets and funding cycles is key to securing your gender equality project or organization. We are bringing to you three lunchtime seminars for members looking to improve their understanding or state budgets.