Australia/ 4.2 Specific policy issues and recent debates  

4.2.10 Gender equality and cultural policies

The Sex Discrimination Act was passed in Australia in 1984 and the Australian Human Rights Commission, through the Sex Discrimination Commissioner, is responsible for the Act.  The commissioner also has responsibility for a range of programs that seek to continually improve the position of women in the workplace and in the community, and these apply as much to women working in the cultural sector as to other women.  For further information see

There is a range of programs at federal and state levels, both within and outside government, that seek to bring more women into decision-making roles in the public or private sectors.  Of particular concern at the moment is the low proportion of Australian company CEOs or board directors who are female.  According to a 2013 Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) report, the percentage of women board members of Australia’s top 200 companies is 15.8 %, up from 9.8%in 2010.

Governments in Australia have typically moved ahead of the business sector in ensuring diversity of gender and cultural background on boards and committees, and this is reflected in the strong representation of women on cultural boards or as CEOs of cultural agencies.  The Gender Balance on Australian Government Boards 2012-13 Report report released by the Australian Government in August 2013 shows that Australian Woman on Government Boards and Bodies 2008–2009 found that women held 41.7 per cent of positions on Commonwealth government boards.

The Office for Women coordinates and maintains the Government Boards Reporting System, a web-based entry, monitoring and reporting database on Australian government board, body and appointment related data, designed to provide whole-of-government status reports on the representation of women.

Chapter published: 26-12-2013