ARARAT residents and groups will have input into a new state government gender equality strategy.
Minister for Women Fiona Richardson has embarked on a six-week tour of Victoria to establish Australia’s first ever state blueprint on gender equality.
Mrs Richardson will be in Ararat on August 4 to consult regional groups including Women’s Health Grampians.
Chief executive Marianne Hendron welcomed the consultation and the establishment of a gender equality strategy.
“It’s really great,” she said.
“It’s very welcome and it’s the first of it’s kind we’ll see in Australia.
“The other reason it’s welcome it, is we know from the Royal Commission into Family Violence that gender inequality has been identified as a key driver of violence against women.”
Ms Hendron said the plan aimed for a long-term prevention of violence.
She said it also aimed to change attitudes and create respect long before aggression occurs.
She said it was great to see a government focus on rural Australia.
“There are part issues in regional areas that affect the potential to achieve equality,” she said. “When we talk about setting out to achieve gender equality, it’s very much about addressing structures and cultural barriers in place.
“In rural areas these can be more entrenched, more rigid stereotypes.
“It’s not across the board, but certainly there are pockets where it is the case.”
Ms Hendron said rural areas could lack a variety of role models for women, enforcing stereotypes.
“One of the influences identified in terms of career choices and decisions is existence of role models,” she said.
“By virtue of population, there tends to be fewer role models in rural areas.
“Look for examples in local governments – certainly we have a lot of processes in achieving greater gender balance on local councils in our region.
“However there is still quite a way to go.”
Ms Hendron said all genders benefited from the removal of stringent gender roles and stereotypes.
“It’s not directed at men, it’s directed at everyone,” she said.
“It’s about choices and opportunities we are all able to make.
“Having greater choices and opportunities is good for everyone.”