Women’s equality and safety in 2022-23

The Victorian Government is focusing on gender equality within Victorian Government suppliers.

The Women’s equality and safety objective focuses on gender equality within Victorian Government suppliers, particularly equal employment at all levels within businesses including leadership and management positions.

Building Equality Policy

On 1 January 2022, the Government’s Building Equality Policy (BEP) came into effect. It applies to construction projects over $20 million. The BEP is a world-leading policy that sets onsite targets for employing women through government procurement on construction projects and mandates actions that are needed to drive systemic cultural change. Industrial Relations Victoria (IRV) within the Department of Treasury and Finance (DTF) is responsible for oversight of the BEP, while DGS supports the implementation of the BEP through the SPF.

In 2022–23 the BEP was applied to 28 projects with an approximate value of $3.07 billion14. The Social Procurement and Assurance team has supported BEP implementation by undertaking activities including assessing appropriate weighting during evaluation and application of BEP contract clauses.

The Victorian Government recognises the importance of monitoring and evaluating new policies. To ensure that any changes to BEP targets and Gender Equality Action Plan requirements are realistic, achievable and reflect the needs of women, an independent evaluation has been undertaken to:

  • evaluate how well industry is meeting the BEP, and to what extent the 3 actions progressed the objectives of the BEP
  • identify barriers to implementation of the BEP, potential changes and opportunities to support contractors to build capability; and
  • identify and assess the impacts of the BEP on project delivery.

Case Study: Construction delivering opportunities for Victorian women in non-traditional trades

Court Services Victoria is currently delivering a new state-of-the-art facility in Melbourne’s West. Breaking ground in August 2022, on completion of the 2.5-year contract, the Wyndham Law Courts will be the largest court complex in Victoria outside of the Melbourne Central Business District. The development is Lendlease’s first project where the BEP applies. While it’s still early stages on site, approximately 10% of the work hours completed to date have been carried out by women. All major trades have had women in their workforce, resulting in 1,260 trade hours, 3,100 non-trade hours and 13,800 management and supervisory hours undertaken by women15.

Hours worked by women in 2022-23

  • Download' Hours worked by women in 2022-23'

All major trades have had women in their workforce, resulting in 1,260 trade hours, 3,100 non-trade hours and 13,800 management and supervisory hours undertaken by women15. 

With 60% of trade packages secured, the procurement process has offered the first opportunity to engage with all subcontractors to implement the BEP.

Lendlease’s project Gender Equality Action Plan meet the mandatory requirements under the BEP and include commitments that go beyond the minimum requirements including gender-neutral bathrooms, respectful workplace training and planned skilling and employment programs to support the achievement of BEP outcomes.

Lendlease Project Engineer, Lenita Psychogios has diverse expertise and experience across roles in design teams, as a lead contractor and a concrete subcontractor. Lenita is a member of Lendlease’s Wyndham Law Courts project site team where she is responsible for trade procurement and management across their onsite works. The BEP has meant that gender diversity discussions with trades have been brought to the forefront, which is leading to change and action. Lenita acknowledges that these discussions range from those that are at the start of their journey, to others that are leading the way.

“It’s great to see these formalities help reshape the way subcontractors look at expanding their team to include females, giving everyone the same opportunity at learning the ways of the industry,” reports Lenita, “however, I believe we’ll be truly successful when we can move past the “obligation to tick a box” and head towards a road that sees the potential and abilities in everyone.

Lenita PsychogiosLendlease Project Engineer

An example of an organisation leading the way is steelwork subcontractor, Structural Challenge. Managing Director, Maria Mavrikos has been a strong advocate for women in construction throughout her career.

Maria’s team includes two women welders, an occupation that has significant skills shortages and traditionally poor gender diversity. As well as being a vocal role model, Maria has responded by providing learning and development opportunities to women, supporting them to follow their interest and upskill.

Maria supports the BEP and acknowledges that it is early days for the policy and there is a need to ensure that it is generating meaningful outcomes.

“Gender diversity in trades is something I have been passionate about my whole career – it is good to see something more formal in place. I hope that showing the industry how you can successfully attract and retain women in trade roles will create more opportunities for women in the future.”

Maria Mavrikos

14: Contracts that applied BEP and had a contract start date that commenced during FY2022–23 are included in reporting. 

15: These hours correspond to the project reporting period from August 2022 to 31 July 2023.