New gender equity officer at Moira Shire Council

By Cobram Courier

Cobram’s Renata Lucas is all about change for the better.

Ms Lucas is the gender equity officer at Moira Shire Council and is changing perceptions surrounding gender and challenging negative gender stereotypes.

Her role has come about from a recommendation of the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence and forms part of the Victorian Government’s Free From Violence Prevention Strategy, which promotes equality and respect for everyone.

On International Women’s Day, she sat down with the Courier to detail her plans for change.

However it was a reflective stance she was taking to start, to see just how Moira Shire stacks up against the norm.

‘‘This role (and the actions of council in regards to gender equity) is about council recognising it’s a leader in the community and that we can walk the walk when it comes to having respectful workplaces,’’ she said.

‘‘And everyone has a role to play in promoting gender equality, it’s about standing in unison and that ties in with the International Women’s Day theme of ‘more powerful together’.’’

After six weeks in the role, Ms Lucas was working through standards to guide the project, assessing just how council workplaces scored at this point in time and then developing a plan going forward.

‘‘There is are a lot of policies and practices council has in place already including flexible work arrangements, family violence leave, equal employment opportunities and a staff code of conduct — just to name a few,’’ Ms Lucas said.

‘‘Now it’s about making sure those are implemented properly and consistently across the organisation.’’

And that was where it could get difficult to organise as council employed about 270 staff across different sites and vastly different roles, including outdoor staff and staff at council depots.

‘‘Roles that involve outdoors work predominantly attract males and more females are involved in customer service roles. So it’s about looking at the different demographics across the organisation and seeing how we can encourage more equal representation across all teams,’’ she said.

‘‘This includes at the very beginning to see how we advertise jobs.’’

Ms Lucas said the message was getting out loud and clear.

‘‘We have a range of communication strategies for employees and so this is about encouraging open discussions, respectful dialogue and to reflect on their relationships with people,’’ she said.

‘‘Victoria is the only state to have a gender equality strategy at this moment. It’s showing how we are a part of a larger movement and it’s exciting to be a part of that.’’