Review of the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Act and Agency

On 1 June 2009, the former Minister for the Status of Women, the Hon Tanya Plibersek MP, announced a review of the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Act (the EOWW Act) and Agency (EOWA).

The purpose of the review is to examine the effectiveness and efficiency of the EOWW Act, and to consider practical ways to improve the equal opportunity framework to deliver better outcomes for Australian women.

The terms of reference for the review are outlined in the issues paper.

All stakeholders and interested parties, including business, unions, employers, employees, academic experts and women's groups, were invited and encouraged to make a submission to the review. In addition, five roundtables were held in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide and individual interviews were conducted with 21 key stakeholders. Survey responses were received from 774 reporting organisations and 859 employees.

The Consultation Report is now available for viewing. The report on public consultations will inform the review recommendations to be considered by the Australian Government.

If you have any queries relating to the review, contact Jennifer Bushell on 02 6244 1393.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Act 1999 (the EOWW Act)?

The EOWW Act is administered by the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency (EOWA). It aims to:

  • promote merit in employment;
  • promote equal employment opportunity and eliminate discrimination; and
  • encourage consultation between employers and employees on these issues.

The EOWW Act requires organisations with 100 or more employees to report to EOWA on measures they are taking to promote equal employment opportunity for women in their workplaces.

What is the review of the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Act 1999?

  • The Government will examine the efficiency and effectiveness of the EOWW Act and EOWA.
  • The review will consider whether the EOWW Act and EOWA, in their current form, are best suited to helping business achieve equal employment opportunity.
  • The scope of the review is determined by the Terms of Reference.

Why is there a need to review the EOWW Act?

  • It has been ten years since the last review, and there have been many legislative and policy changes since then.
  • The review is timely as the legislation needs to keep pace with the economic, social and legislative changes that have occurred since the last review.

How long will the review take?

  • Given the extensive consultations that will be undertaken as part of the review, it will occur over the course of 2009 and 2010.
  • During the 2010 election campaign, the Australian Government committed to supporting gender equality and workplace flexibility by retaining and improving the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace and Agency (EOWA) and its underlying legislation (EOWW Act). 
  • The Government intends to streamline the existing reporting requirements, reducing cost to business, by using measurable indicators of outcomes for men and women in the workplace. 

Will the review impact on reporting organisations?

  • It continues to be 'business as usual' for EOWA.  EOWA will liaise closely with reporting organisations once more detail regarding reforms and implementation timing is known.  

What form did the review take?

  • On 31 August 2009, the former Minister launched an issues paper and called for public submissions. Submissions closed on 16 October 2009.
  • In addition, five roundtables were held in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide and individual interviews were conducted with 21 key stakeholders. Survey responses were received from 774 reporting organisations and 859 employees.
  • The Consultation Report is now publicly available.

Can I view individual submissions to the consultation process?

You are able to view submissions to the EOWW Act review at our List of Submissions

Please note that not all submissions have been authorised to be made public. Those submissions are not available for viewing.

Did the Australian Government make any commitments relating to the EOWW Act Review during the 2010 Election Campaign?

  • During the 2010 election campaign, the Australian Government committed to supporting gender equality and workplace flexibility by retaining and improving the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace and Agency (EOWA) and its underlying legislation (EOWW Act). 
  • The Government intends to streamline the existing reporting requirements, reducing cost to business, by using measurable indicators of outcomes for men and women in the workplace.  
Content Updated: 27 September 2013