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C24 ACT Women's Plan 2010-2015

C24 ACT Women's Plan 2010-2015

The ACT Women's Plan 2010-2015 provides a whole of government approach to improving the status of women and girls in the ACT.

The plan identifies economic, social, and environmental themes as the areas where progress is required to be made.

The Directorate supported the strategy through a number of activities under its three priority areas.

Progress against economic indicators

Pathways in education and training

The Directorate administered and funded programs to provide the best possible means for women to participate actively in community life through schooling, vocational and community education and training.

The Directorate recognises the importance of ensuring equal access for women and girls to work-related training and lifelong learning. In 2012-13, the Directorate administered a number of vocational education and training (VET) programs aimed at providing easily accessible, relevant training to women.

The Directorate administered the Australian School-based Apprenticeships (ASBA) program which recognises the importance of providing pathways for girls to enter vocational occupations. The program aimed to increase the number of well prepared individuals having the option of transitioning to a full apprenticeship or traineeship upon leaving school. In the 2012 school year, 47 percent of students commencing an ASBA were female.

Under the Australian Apprenticeships program in 2012-13, 18 percent of participants commencing a traditional apprenticeship were women. Of the participants commencing a traineeship, 61 percent were women.

The Productivity Places Program (PPP) provided training from Certificate II to Diploma for job seekers wishing to gain qualifications to increase their chances of gaining paid employment or self-employment. Qualifications take up to two years to complete. While this agreement concluded in June 2012, participants in the program will continue to be funded until 31 May 2014, enabling them to complete their training. As at 31 December 2012, there have been 2,278 job seeker commencements over the life of the program – of which 48 percent were women.

The Priorities Support Program (PSP) aims to increase the access and participation in VET of disadvantaged learners. In 2012-13, 55 percent of participants commencing in PSP were women. Of the participants completing qualifications or statements of attainment during this period, 55 percent were women.

Box C24.1: Vocational training helps a young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander woman gain employment

Photo of Leah Theobald

Leah Theobald (pictured) participated in the CHANCES program offering a range of positive training opportunities in a flexible and supportive environment. Leah said CHANCES was a great opportunity as she could bring her children along. While she studied, the children were provided with help with their homework by two very talented teachers who made learning fun.

Leah took comfort in knowing her children were always at arm's length and they were enjoying themselves. She said "the kids loved it and they were more than happy to help each other". She said the course being free was also a great incentive to undertake training. Leah said she was always comfortable, always felt welcome and was never made to feel incapable.

Leah had enough confidence at the end of the course to speak at the CHANCES graduation ceremony alongside another participant. She said she was very nervous but managed to complete her speech and is so happy and proud of what she achieved. Leah says the course "changed my life". She is now employed as a trainee by a high-profile mortgage company while she completes her Certificate III in Business Administration. Leah's experience also encouraged others to undertake the program.

Increased opportunities for advancement in the workforce

PPP provided funding for the training of existing workers in VET qualifications ranging from Certificate III to Advanced Diploma. The funding of nationally recognised work-related training for existing workers through the PPP aimed to increase the productivity of the full-time ACT workforce and increase the number of better skilled casual or part-time workers seeking to participate fully in the workforce. As of 31 December 2012 there have been 4,821 existing worker commencements over the life of PPP – of which 51 percent were women. Qualifications take between 12 months to three years to complete. Of the existing workers completing, or continuing to study towards a qualification under PPP in the reporting period, 53 percent were women.

Increased decision making opportunities in economic leadership

During the reporting period, women were well represented at senior decision-making levels in the Directorate.

Progress against social indicators

Recognition of contributions to the community

An annual breakfast function was held by the Directorate to celebrate International Women's Day and the achievements of female staff in education and the community. More than 120 staff attended the event held on 6 March 2013. The keynote speaker was Executive Director of United Nations Women Australia, Ms Julie McKay. Female college student representatives attended the event and held Master of Ceremonies roles and a number of Women of Achievement Awards were presented to staff at the breakfast.

Increased community leadership and decision-making opportunities

Women had considerable representation in Directorate advisory bodies and actively participated in decision-making processes. The two ministerial advisory committees, the Government Schools Education Council and the Non-government Schools Education Council, were chaired by women and had a significant number of female members.

Affordable and accessible gender and culturally sensitive services

The Directorate provided a model of support and welfare services based on a range of professionals working together to support students. The model was aimed at providing an effective service, committed to a focus on promotion, prevention and early intervention to ensure students' wellbeing.

The Network Student Engagement Teams, Targeted Support Teams, school psychologists, School Youth Health Nurse program and Disability Support Officers contributed towards supporting affordable and accessible gender and culturally sensitive services. Every high school had a pastoral care coordinator whose role was to provide a personalised approach to student wellbeing and support.

Each school is required to have a male and female Anti-Sexual Harassment Officer. The officers are trained to address sexual harassment in an accessible and sensitive manner.

The Cultural Competency training program which raises awareness and respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and diversity continued. This program was available to school leaders and upon request to all public school staff.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student Scholarships

In term 1, 2013, two year 11 students were awarded $5,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student Scholarships.

The recipients were from Caroline Chisholm School and Melrose High School and will provide a mentoring role to younger Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, developing their leadership and teaching skills as well as providing positive role models for other young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

Pathways for women experiencing disadvantage, social exclusion and isolation

The ACT Implementation Plan for the National Partnership Agreement on Training Places for Single and Teenage Parents was agreed by the ACT Government in April 2012 and signed by the Australian Government Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research in May 2012. The Agreement allocated $929,000 of Commonwealth funding to the ACT over a four year period (from 2011-12 to 2014-15) to provide training places for single and teenage parents at the Certificate II level and above. The training aims to improve the job readiness of single and teenage parents through participation in training with a view to increasing their workforce participation. Training places are as flexible as possible to meet the needs of parents, providing an opportunity to gain the skills and confidence needed when it comes time to consider returning to the workforce.

Addressing violence against women and their children and protection and support for victims

Respect, Equity and Diversity Contact Officers (REDCOs) are located in schools and in central office. REDCOs participate in the quarterly network meetings where opportunities are provided to develop skills and knowledge for their role in contributing to positive work cultures. REDCOs share the information from meetings and raise awareness among staff about bullying, harassment and discrimination. REDCOs also support staff who feel that they are experiencing bullying, harassment or discrimination. There are currently 92 REDCOs in schools and 12 in central office.

The Directorate continued to deliver Respectful Workplace training to employees. The training focused on creating safe and respectful workplaces and provided information on preventing and managing bullying and harassment in the workplace.

The Directorate hosted the Respectful Relationship Conference on preventing violence against women and girls on the National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence on 15 March 2013. The Directorate invited teachers and student leaders in public, Catholic and independent schools to this event. The purpose of the conference was to effect change in schools by using education as a primary prevention approach to respectful relationships and promoting gender equality. Teachers and students developed strategies to reduce bullying and violence towards women and girls at their schools.

Progress against environmental indicators

Available opportunities for decisions about urban planning, transport and the environment

The Directorate has input to whole of government urban and transport planning. Four women from the Planning and Performance Branch had regular input to whole of government committees, reference groups, meetings, workshops and forums in relation to urban planning and transport matters relating to education and training.

The Directorate's School Planning Working Group provides advice to senior executive about strategic directions, policies and proposals for system-wide planning initiatives. The Working Group comprises eight members, four of whom are women.

In an effort to provide high level input into whole of government planning matters, the Director-General and the Executive Director Tertiary Education and Performance have been invited to join the Directors-General Land Supply Steering Group and the Executive Director Land Supply Group. Both of these senior executive participants are women.

Consideration towards safety, security and accessibility when designing, building or retrofitting public facilities

The Directorate assisted schools with the installation of security fences and electronic security systems to provide additional security for students, staff and visitors to school sites. These measures improved the entry and control of people onto school sites. Designs for new schools and new school facilities took into account 'Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design' principles. Landscape improvement works undertaken at trial school sites and high schools also addressed safety issues.

The Directorate continued to work closely with schools and the Australian FederalPolice to assess and develop strategies to improve security and safety at school sites.

For more information contact:
Training and Tertiary Education
(02) 6205 2683