Workforce participation policy initiatives

Women’s workforce participation

In 2014, the Australian Government led the G20 to set a goal of reducing the labour force participation gap between men and women by 25 per cent by 2025; it has subsequently released Towards 2025: a strategy to boost Australian women’s workforce participation. The goal was based on 2012 working-age (15–64) participation rates to allow comparison across G20 countries.

In 2012, the participation rate for working-age men in Australia was 82.5 per cent and for working-age women it was 70.4 per cent. The participation gap was thus 12.1 percentage points. If Australia is to meet the G20 goal this participation gap needs to be reduced by 3 percentage points (that is, down to 9.1 percentage points) by 2025. The June 2017 Australian Bureau of Statistics labour force data show a gender participation gap of 10.2 per cent.

Increasing women’s participation in the workplace is a priority for the Department, and officials have worked cooperatively with other government departments and agencies to develop comprehensive economic and employment policies that will encourage further growth in women’s workforce participation. The Department supports women into work through both jobactive and the ParentsNext program.

In response to Balancing the Future: The Australian Public Service Gender Equality Strategy — 2016–19, the Department now has its first Gender Equality Action Plan and is committed to supporting and promoting workplace gender equality. The Action Plan offers another way for the Department to ensure that it is providing a supportive and enabling organisational culture. Initiatives set out in the Action Plan are for implementation between 2016 and 2019. Progress being made with the Action Plan is discussed in the People section of this report.

There has been an increase in the number of women appointed to government boards in the Employment portfolio. The portfolio has seven boards with 47.5 per cent of reportable positions held by women. This is an increase of 19.2 per cent from 2015–16.