The Department for Women was established on 5 April 1995 (1).
The Department for Women administered the Women’s Legal Status Act (No.50, 1918) and functioned to work within the public sector to improve the equity of women in NSW by providing policy advice in relation to legislation, programs and services. The Department provided a range of management and information services, including that of Secretariat to the Premier’s Council for Women. Community liaison encompassed a range of activities including educational initiatives, forums, research and publications.
The Director-General headed the executive team, which was comprised of Director of Policy Advice & Implementation, Director of Management Information Services, Manager of Education & Community Relations, Coordinator of Women’s Information & Referral Service and Manager Whole of Government. The Department worked with the Premier’s Council for Women, which was chaired by the Minister, and various sub-committees in its consultative role. A number of senior representatives from key government agencies formed the membership of Planning Advisory Groups who acted to provide a framework to identify and implement agency goals and strategies for advancing the position of women in the NSW public sector (2).
During the year ended 30 June 2000, the Department underwent a restructure, developed a strategic agenda, and revised its corporate objectives. The structure consisted of four divisions: Policy and Research, Civil Society Partnerships, Strategic Partnerships and Ministerial Liaison, and Information Service. (3) Information Services was responsible for providing relevant and current information to the Women of New South Wales through services such as the Women’s Information and Referral Service, and the Women’s Gateway Website. (4)
In 2001-2002 the Department was again restructured to enable the organisation to effectively manage the growth of its services, and a new corporate plan was also adopted. (5) The Department executive then consisted of a Deputy Director-General Policy and Research, Executive Director of Strategic Alliances, and Director of Communication, Information and Planning. (6)
In 2000, the Council on the Cost and Quality of Government conducted a review of the Department. The Council recommended that the Minister for Women propose the repeal of the Women’s Legal Status Act 1918 (No. 50, 1918) to the statute law revision program. As a result the Department conducted a survey of NSW Legislation, and concluded that the act was superseded by more recent anti-discrimination legislation. The Women’s Legal Status Act was subsequently repealed in June 2002 under the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2002. (7)
By 30 June 2003, the organisational structure of the Department was expanded to include an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s unit. (8) The main function of the unit was to improve the status and outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, by facilitating dialogue between stakeholders, and developing “a response to local or regional issues that affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women.” (9)
On 7 April 2004 the Department introduced the Lucy Mentoring Program. (10) The aim of the program was to raise the representation of women in senior management positions in the private and public sectors, by matching young women studying business, finance or accounting with mentors who held senior management roles in corporations and government. (11)
On 1 July 2004 the Department for Women was abolished and all branches transferred to the Premier’s Department. (12) The Office for Women was subsequently established to advise the Premier on the ”emerging and complex issues relating to women in New South Wales”. (13)
1. NSW Government Gazette No. 39, 5 April 1995, p.1859.
2. Department for Women, Annual Report, 30 June 1997, pp.4-8.
3. Department for Women, Annual Report, 1999-2000, pp.4-8.
4. ibid., pp.24-25.
5. Department for Women, Annual Report, 2001-2002, p.7.
6. ibid., p.35.
7. ibid., p.50.
8. Department for Women, Annual Report, 2002-2003, pp. 6-7.
9. Department for Women, Annual Report, 2003-2004, p.11.
10. ibid., p.8.
11. ibid., p.12.
12. NSW Government Gazette, 30 June 2004, pp.4878-4879.
13. NSW Premier’s Website http://www.premiers.nsw.gov.au/AboutUs/OurStructure/OfficeForWomen.htm (accessed 07/12/2004).