Gender Equality Action Plans for year two (July 2023–June 2024) are currently being developed by employers. This means the Department of Education (schools), individual TAFEs, and local governments that run kindergartens, need to detail the achievable actions that will make an impact on gender equality indicators through changes in organisational culture.
This time around we can already see real change. Year one Gender Equality Action Plans tended to concentrate on getting the administrative settings right and deciding on the focus, so the results were hard to see at the workplace. But year two is looking far more promising.
For example, after years of talking about the barriers to part-time work for principals, there was an announcement in this year’s state budget for $9.5 million to support enhanced flexible work arrangements for school leaders (principal class and leading teacher/learning specialists). So, if you’re a young woman with caring responsibilities, you can now aim for school leadership roles with a little more confidence. If you’re a woman looking to transition to retirement, then you can start to wind back and hand over the reins by reducing your time fraction. No matter which way you look at it, it’s a win for women.
Women in TAFE should be seeking answers through their multi-enterprise agreement process. Already, some TAFEs are more readily sharing their gender equality data and some are willing to work more collaboratively in this space.
Women who work in kindergarten programs in local government areas can now reference the plans when seeking answers and when negotiating with employers for pay and conditions that support their needs.
The most effective way to advocate in TAFE and schools is by stepping up and becoming the Women’s Officer in the Workplace (WOW). The WOW increases the profile of issues that affect women at work. WOWs have opportunities to network, support other women, and build the confidence of women at all stages of their career. You can be involved as much or as little as you like and can take advantage of our AEU programs, such as Women in Leadership Development, as well as access to specific training to help you in your role. You can even job-share the role with another AEU woman.
In early childhood, now is the time for women to engage in the log of claims process. Attend your local AEU meetings to raise the entitlements you want to see in your next agreement. These are being advertised via social media and email. There’s a meeting dedicated to reproductive leave, including menstrual and menopause leave – but it will need several determined members to turn up and take a stand for this right.
There is hope for the future. But we can’t sit back and hope that benevolent employers will hand out benefits beyond the minimum required. What are you waiting for? Get in touch with me or your organiser to get involved, because if you do nothing, nothing will change.