The Victorian Government’s Building Equality Policy (BEP) came into effect on 1st January 2022, paving the way for greater female participation in the building workforce. The move has been welcomed by Master Builders Victoria and others, who are actively promoting women working in master trades. Currently, women make up just 2.5 per cent of all building and construction trades workers in Victoria.
Building Industry Consultative Council
The Building Industry Consultative Council (BICC) is a forum for industry bodies and experts to discuss economic and industrial relations issues in the building and construction industry. Established in 2001 as a high-level advisory council to the Minister for Industrial Relations, the BICC have engaged with industry associations, unions and the government to work towards a stronger, more sustainable industry. Represented organisations include CFMEU, Master Builders Victoria, WorkSafe, Property Council of Australia, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Lend Lease and others.
Victoria's Women in Construction Strategy
The BICC have spent the last few years developing the Victoria’s Women in Construction Strategy 2019-2022. The strategy makes up part of the state governments larger goal of achieving gender equality in the workplace.
“We are making progress in many ways,” said Tim Pallas, Minister for Industrial Relations. “However, we are not yet seeing this in construction. Construction has always been a male-dominated industry, but that needs to change.”
“More women are active in the Victorian labour market now than in the past, but they make up only 2% of the workers in Australian construction. We must put initiatives in place to ensure women can become fully qualified well-paid tradespeople.”
“Greater diversity makes our workplaces stronger. Greater representation of women in construction will benefit everyone in the industry.”
Building Equality Policy
The Victorian Government’s Building Equality Policy (BEP) mandates female representation in building, infrastructure, and civil engineering sectors. The policy is a first in Australia and is expected to make a large impact in increasing the numbers of women pursuing careers in construction.
“We need to make women aware that construction is an attractive and viable career option,” said Mr. Pallas. “Women must be proactively recruited and have access to strong career pathways. Workplaces must be inclusive and adaptive to ensure that women stay in the industry.”
The BEP applies to all new government construction projects. The policy ensures that there is female representation in at least 3 per cent of each trade role, 7 per cent of each non-trade role, and 35 per cent of management, supervisor, and specialist labour positions. 4 per cent of apprentice and trainee labour hours will also be required to be performed by female workers.
Master Builder Victoria have welcomed the new policy and the opportunities it presents to expand the construction workforce. “Increasing the potential supply pipeline of women wanting to work in building and construction requires a concerted, whole-of-industry approach in sourcing, attracting, training, and retaining women workers,” read a 15 December statement. “It is vital that our sector changes so that it can reduce skills shortages and have a thriving and sustainable future.”