Achieving gender equity in the Australian Honours system with DPC

Increasing nominations of Victorian women for Australian Honours

In 2018, less than one-third of nominations in Australia’s Honours system were for women. This means fewer awards go to women. Men have consistently received around 70% of the awards since the Order of Australia began in 1975.

Following the equality strategy, Safe and Strong, we worked with the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet to start a movement to achieve equal representation in these prestigious awards, as one way of creating greater visibility and recognition of women’s achievements and contributions.

Participants at the co-design workshop: left to right: May Hu OAM, Committee Member, National Council of Women of Victoria Inc, Tricia Malowney OAM, Gender and disability specialist, Brenda Appleton OAM, Ambassador, The Pinnacle Foundation.
21% increase in women receiving awards from 2018 to 2021
56 Victorian leaders involved in co-design activities
Victorian women received 53% of Australian Honours in 2021

Co-designing a movement

The starting point for the initiative was to bring women in leadership and positions of influence in their communities together with subject matter experts to discuss the issue, uncover the underlying reasons why so few women were being nominated and co-design solutions.

We brought together 56 women from diverse communities, industry sectors and cultural backgrounds for a full-day workshop to generate ideas and momentum for change.

Building on their ideas, and with ongoing targeted co-design activities, we created a public campaign, nomination toolkit and a website to share the stories of women recipients, helping to reframe preconceptions of who can be nominated for an Australian Honour.

Co-design workshop participants present their concept to reframe perceptions of who could be nominated for an Australian Honour.

Working with MAKE was the best part of the collaboration process.  In our co-design workshop we worked with people who make our community special.  Their voices were heard and Recognition Matters is the product of that.  We continue to grow with our community and reflect this in our products and services.

Stacey Williams – Victorian Government Department of Premier and Cabinet

Gender equity in Victoria’s Honours recipients

Since it launched on International Women’s Day 2019, the Recognition Matters campaign has seen an increase in awareness and nominations of women for Australian Honours. In 2021, for the first time in history, Victorian women represented 53% of the state’s recipients in the Queen’s Birthday Honours, with 161 women receiving an award. This represents an increase of 21% since 2017 and this increase has been accompanied by greater diversity of recipients.

The toolkit and website can be found at:

Community engagement
Toolkit development