Australia releases gender responsive budgeting guidance for federal departments

By on 22/08/2023 | Updated on 25/10/2023
Aboriginal girl laughing, Australia.
Photo by Kristy via Flickr

The Australian Office for Women has released guidance for federal agencies on gender responsive budgeting.

The APS (Australian Public Service) Guide to Gender Analysis and Gender Impact Assessment aims to help policymakers assess how a policy proposal might impact people in different ways based on gender.

The guide sets out why gender analysis is important and provides instructions for completing a gender analysis summary and a gender impact assessment.

A gender analysis summary – which is a new requirement for all cabinet submissions and new policy proposals – aims to inform decision-makers of any potential “gendered impact”. A gender impact assessment is a more detailed analysis required for proposals that have a significant gendered impact or that meet certain criteria. The aim is to show decision-makers the gendered impact a policy is expected to have and what concrete actions are proposed to improve the impact on gender equality.

“Gender responsive budgeting weaves consideration of gender impacts through the budget process and is a way governments can identify and fund measures that close gender gaps. Gender responsive budgeting helps avoid measures that could inadvertently exacerbate gender inequality, as well as highlighting the distributional impacts of proposals,” the government said in the guide.

It described gender analysis is a key tool of gender responsive budgeting that enables decision-makers “to make choices based on a transparent understanding of how proposals affect gender equality, alongside other priorities such as boosting economic growth”.

Improving the lives of Australian women and girls

Katy Gallagher, minister for women, finance and the public service, said “embedding gender equality as a key policy consideration” is one of the ways the Labor government would fulfil its election commitment to improve the lives of Australian women and girls.

“The guidance… will help all public servants in this work, as they support the government to deliver on this important commitment,” she said.

Read more: IMF champions move towards ‘gender budgeting’

She added that the reintroduction of gender responsive budgeting, originally pioneered under Bob Hawke’s government in the 1980s, “means that the impact policies may have on women will be a critical part of the government’s decision-making process”.

The Labor government led by Anthony Albanese – who assumed office in May last year – ran a gender responsive budgeting pilot in October, which looked at policy areas including the care economy, housing and jobs and skills.

Publication of Women’s Budget Statement could end

At present, the Australian government produces a separate Women’s Budget Statement – the first of which was published in 1984 – alongside the main Budget.

However, Gallagher said she intends to upskill the APS to “mainstream” the application of a gender lens in future Budgets, potentially meaning the standalone women’s statement may not be needed in future.

“My hope, in the end, is that we don’t need a Women’s Budget Statement, that we have it embedded through how we present the Budget,” she said.  

In other APS gender news, in June this year, Australia’s Department of Defence announced that it was working towards doubling the number of women hired through science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) recruitment programmes from 25% to 50%.

And in February, Australian government departments were asked to begin implementing policies that address sexual harassment in federal workplaces.

The Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) called on agencies to start work earlier this year, ahead of legislation due to go into force in December that will require all employers nationwide to take “reasonable and proportionate” measures to eliminate sex discrimination, sexual harassment, hostility and victimisation in the workplace.

You can download Including Gender: An APS Guide to Gender Analysis and Gender Impact Assessment from the Australian Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet website here.

We are launching the Global Government Women’s Network for women in civil and public services around the world in September 2023. Sign up to become a member here.

About Mia Hunt

Mia is a journalist and editor with a background in covering commercial property, having been market reports and supplements editor at trade title Property Week and deputy editor of Shopping Centre magazine, now known as Retail Destination. She has also undertaken freelance work for several publications including the preview magazine of international trade show, MAPIC, and TES Global (formerly the Times Educational Supplement) and has produced a white paper on energy efficiency in business for E.ON. Between 2014 and 2016, she was a member of the Revo Customer Experience Committee and an ACE Awards judge. Mia graduated from Kingston University with a first-class degree in journalism and was part of the team that produced The River newspaper, which won Publication of the Year at the Guardian Student Media Awards in 2010.

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