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Victorian State Budget 2023/24

Gender responsive budgeting

Better decision making for all Victorians.

Group of women painting in an art class

Building on world’s best practice

Victoria is the first Australian state to implement gender responsive budgeting.

We are proud to join other leading international jurisdictions using gender responsive budgeting to deliver real-life benefits.

Gender responsive budgeting tools have been trialled or adopted by nearly half of all OECD countries, including five of the seven largest economies in the world: Canada, France, Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom.

Not only has gender responsive budgeting helped to make governments’ expenditure more transparent and accountable, it has also enabled governments to adapt policies and investment to better address gender inequity.

In Austria, it has enabled landmark tax system reform to provide greater incentives for women to participate in the workforce.

In Mexico, it has led to investment in programs for health conditions more likely to affect women, which aims to increase women’s life expectancy.

Victoria will continue to draw on international evidence to strengthen gender responsive budgeting practices and ensure fairer outcomes for every Victorian.

What Victoria is doing

When we prioritise fairness and equity with every dollar spent, the entire state benefits.

Gender responsive budgeting is a way to create budgets that consider the impact of investment decisions on all Victorians.

It ensures that when we make decisions, we’re doing everything we can to break down structural barriers that hold women back.

It also helps us gain better insights, provide better outcomes, and share resources more fairly to address inequalities.

Applying policies and programs to everyone in the same way may sound fair, but people will experience them differently. Our needs and experiences are affected by who we are, including our gender. These differences are compounded for women of colour, women with disability and women from other minority groups.

To meaningfully address the different needs of Victorians, gender equality needs to be considered at every stage of the policy process.

Gender responsive budgeting in action

Extensive research shows the huge role reading plays in a child’s development, whether the child is reading alone or being read to. The benefits to the developing mind are formative and lifelong.

In 2018 we established the Books in Prep Bags program – giving a bag of four to five books to prep students and their families – to make sure they have access to high-quality books and well‑written stories. Between 2019 and 2022, the program successfully delivered over 1.3 million books to Victorian students.

In this Budget, we reviewed the program using a gender impact assessment to consider how selected books could better support the diverse needs of our prep students and their families, in ways that improve gender equality.

We used school data to identify the key characteristics of the prep student cohort – and we've combined these insights with survey data from parents, families and teachers to determine further areas of interest and need. This research clearly told us there is a greater need for female protagonists, female authors and female illustrators.

So now, when suppliers submit books for the program, we can ask them to provide books with strong female characters – books that do not reinforce gender stereotypes or gender biases, and that are from female authors and illustrators.

And going forward, when we assess this program, we'll consider how children establish gender stereotypes and gender bias early, and how this can easily be reinforced through books.

It'll help us give our prep students access to great books that set them up for the lifelong benefits of reading – and to support their confidence, career aspirations and sense of identity in ways not limited by gender stereotypes.

How we are doing it

Victorians want safe, secure jobs to provide for our families, good quality healthcare close to home, and a fair go for everyone.

The gender responsive budgeting process allows us to better tailor our investments to deliver the programs, services and infrastructure that Victorians deserve. And we need to consider more than just gender. The day-to-day experiences of women of colour can be very different and mean that governments need to provide different services in different ways. It ensures we can better consider the impacts of other forms of disadvantage and inequality that intersect with and compound gender inequality, such as disability, racism and homophobia.

We’re targeting services that directly impact women, children and the LGBTIQ+ community. That includes more support for women’s health services, and investments to improve the safety and security of every Victorian.

After legislating to require gender impact assessments, we’re now measuring gender impacts as part of the budget process in a more meaningful way – across health, education, transport and jobs.

Because we know that government policies and investment can advance gender equality and improve lives.

Gender impact assessments give us a more sophisticated tool to measure how government policy, programs and services will impact different people in the Victorian community.

They help assess and influence program design to ensure the Government is supporting equal access to opportunities and resources.

This is crucial, as many policy and program responses differ based on the gender of the person accessing government services.

The assessments provide improved information about gender impacts to decision-makers, enabling better-targeted investments.

And better budget decisions will create fairer outcomes for all Victorians.

Our aims

Gender responsive budgeting will help ensure that Government investment helps address and advance women’s needs and aspirations.

That means:

  • Greater investment to support gender equality.
  • More targeted policies that consider the needs of all Victorians.
  • Services that are better targeted to the needs of women.
  • Increased transparency and accountability across government.

Progress to date: Embedding gender responsive budgeting

We’re making significant progress in advancing gender equality through gender responsive budgeting.

In the second year, we’ve made even more progress.

We’ve delivered gender impact assessment training to almost 400 staff directly across the Victorian public service and even more as a result of train-the-trainer programs.

As a result, we're seeing higher quality gender impact assessments in this Budget – underscoring the value these insights provide, and how they support better decision making.

Now, we’re working towards securing and future-proofing gender responsive budgeting by enshrining it in legislation – as recommended by the Inquiry.

And while that work continues, we'll invest $1.1 million to support and embed gender responsive budgeting for the next two years.

Gender responsive budgeting can identify issues that need to be addressed in order to avoid further entrenching gender inequity.

For example, Triple Zero – a service that has been provided for more than 50 years – is a critical link between the community and emergency services agencies. It would be easy to assume Triple Zero is one-size-fits-all service, but by undertaking a gender impact assessment, we can better understand the different ways in which women engage with it – and the different times when they may need to.

Nearly two-thirds of Victorian women feel unsafe while walking alone at night. 39% of Victorian women have experienced physical or sexual violence. Sometimes, it may not be practical – or even possible – to pick up the phone. By investing in the next generation Triple Zero service that will enable the introduction of other potential options for connecting to Triple Zero such as via SMS, video or even social media, we're allowing women to get the help they need, in a safer way.

And sometimes, it can be the smallest considerations that have some of the biggest impacts. Providing personal protective equipment is one way to protect the wellbeing of our healthcare workers. Supplying personal protective equipment that fits all genders, sizes and ages is a way to better support them all.

Gender responsive budgeting can identify which programs are contributing to gender equality.

One example is our pledge to provide free period products in schools and public places. Cost of living affects everyone, but for some women and girls it can make it more difficult to access period products, preventing them from fully participating in society, and meeting their full potential. By providing free pads and tampons in schools and public places, we can change that. A change that appears simple can still make big progress.

These initiatives, along with many others in this Budget, have used gender impact assessments to consider the needs of different genders to improve their design – allowing us to develop more targeted and effective programs that make a difference to the lives of Victorian women and girls.

As our gender responsive budgeting processes and capabilities mature, we will work towards ensuring that gender analysis is applied at every stage of the policy‑making process, from identifying budget priorities, through to policy design, decision making, implementation and evaluation.

Reviewed 22 May 2023

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