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Victorian Building Equality Policy to take effect next year

The Victorian Government’s Building Equality Policy (BEP) will help more women enter the construction, infrastructure, and civil engineering sectors.

The BEP is an Australian first and aims to disrupt gender stereotypes in the country’s most male dominated industry.

It will apply to new government projects and mandates female representation in at least three per cent of each trade role, seven per cent of each non-trade position and 35 per cent of management, supervisor, and specialist labour roles.

The policy, which will come into effect from 1 January 2022, also mandates that four per cent of labour hours for apprentices and trainees will be required to be performed by women.

Industrial Relations Minister Tim Pallas said the targets are the first step in significantly increasing the number of women on construction.

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“It’s essential to cement the role of women in a modern construction industry and we’ve worked with employers, industry and unions to work towards these targets,” Pallas said.

The Government has invested $3.5 million to support the implementation of the policy and a further $1.5 million for the delivery of medium and long-term actions from the Women in Construction Strategy 2019-22.

Over the past 30 years, women have consistently comprised only two-to-three per cent of the construction workforce, with the coronavirus pandemic having a disproportionate impact on women’s workforce participation, employment, and economic security.

The new requirements are being introduced through Victoria’s Social Procurement Framework (SPF) for works valued at $20 million or more over the life of the project.

Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan said greater diversity will make workplaces stronger, and greater representation of women in construction will benefit everyone.

“We need to make women aware that construction is an attractive and viable career option – and these targets will ensure women are proactively included and stay in the industry, with stronger career pathways,” Allan said.

There will be a two-year transitional implementation period and action on non-compliance will kick in from January 2024.

Victoria’s Building Industry Consultative Council (BICC) has worked collaboratively on the development of the policy and will continue to provide support and guidance to help industry understand their obligations and comply.

Master Builders Victoria CEO and Acting Chairperson of the BICC Rebecca Casson said the sector must change if it is to reduce skills shortages and have a thriving, sustainable future.

“More women are active in building and construction now than in the past, but they still make up just 2.5 per cent of all building and construction trades workers in Victoria,” Casson said.

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