Gender balance on Australian government boards: report 2018-19

A report on the gender composition of Australian government boards
Gender equity Government business activity Women Governance Australia

The Government is committed to a target of women holding 50 per cent of Government board positions overall, and men and women each holding at least 40 per cent of positions on individual boards. This target was introduced on 1 July 2016, and replaced the previous gender diversity target of women holding 40 per cent of Australian Government board positions overall.

Since the 2017–18 report, there has been positive progress.

  • At 30 June 2019, women held 47.9 per cent across all Australian Government board appointments, an increase of 2.1 percentage points from 30 June 2018.
  • Seven of 16 portfolios met or exceeded the 50 per cent gender diversity target: Communications and the Arts; Defence; Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business; Health; Industry, Innovation and Science; Prime Minister and Cabinet; and Social Services. This is up from six portfolios in the last reporting period.
  • A further five portfolios are within five percentage points of meeting the target: Agriculture; Attorney-General’s; Education; Environment and Energy; and Foreign Affairs and Trade.
  • The representation of women on Government boards increased for seven of the 16 portfolios since 30 June 2018.

The findings for 2018–19 also show that further effort is needed.

  • There has been no change in the number of women in Chair and Deputy Chair positions across all Government boards, remaining at 35 per cent since the last annual report.
  • Of the 656 new appointments made over 2018–19, 52.7 per cent of nominees were women – a decrease of 0.4 percentage points.

During the reporting period, a number of machinery of government changes affected the structure of portfolios. Some of these included changes to the Administrative Arrangements Order (see Appendix A). It is important to note that as a result of these changes to portfolio composition, it is not possible to compare some portfolio data in this report with that of previous years.


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