Home and community support services are overwhelmingly provided by women and this has implications when it comes to gender equity, decreasing the gender pay gap and the future of all of our families.

Victoria’s local government provided Home and Community Care (HACC) service has been in operation for over 40 years. Ongoing policy reforms have left the sector with an increasingly uncertain future, despite the growing need for such services.

The workforce, both formal and informal, is overwhelmingly made up of women. As a result policy failure in this space has significant implications for the gender pay gap, women’s employment participation and the capacity for both men and women to balance work and family life.

This event will outline some of the history of the current HACC system, the potential impacts of major policy reform and the implications for the broader Victorian workforce.

Speakers include:

  • Professor Sara Charlesworth, RMIT University – keynote
  • Ronda Held, CEO, Council on the Ageing (Victoria)
  • Lisa Darmanin, Executive President of the Australian Services Union (Vic and Tas Branch)
  • Merle Mitchell, advocate and community worker
  • Nicole Marshall, local government councillor.

About the speakers

Sara Charlesworth is a Professor and Deputy Head of School, Research & Innovation in the School of Management at RMIT University. She is an executive member of the Centre for People, Organisation & Work in the College of Business. Sara has published and presented widely in a wide range of academic, policy and community fora and has been involved in a number of key gender equality policy reviews and debates. Sara was a panel member on the 2012 ACTU Independent Inquiry into Insecure Work, and an advisor to the Australian Human Rights Commission on their 2012 National Sexual Harassment Prevalence Survey and their 2014 Pregnancy and Return to Work National Review. In 2017 Sara was appointed to the Equal Workplaces Advisory Council, a founding reform of the Victorian government’s Gender Equality Strategy. She is currently a member of the Victoria Police VEOHRC Review Academic Governance Board, on the Steering Group of the Migrant Workers Rights Campaign and co-convenor of the Work+Family Policy Roundtable. Sara is a Fellow of the Future Social Services Institute.

Lisa Darmanin is the first female executive president of the Australian Services Union’s Victorian and Tasmanian Authorities and Services Branch. In her role at the ASU, Lisa Darmanin led the landmark equal pay campaign for social and community services workers. This campaign culminated in the sector’s predominantly female workers achieving pay rises ranging from 23 to 45%. Lisa previously worked at Victorian Trades Hall Council, coordinating the Your Rights at Work campaign in Victoria and in the community sector. Lisa has a Bachelor of Business (Industrial Relations), a Diploma of Community Development and is on the Boards of HESTA, the Community Services and Health Industry Training Board and the National Committee of EMILY’s List.

Ronda Held is CEO of COTA Victoria, having previously been National Manager with Home Care Today at COTA Australia. She has extensive experience in community services in governance, leadership, government positions, and as a consultant and educator. In these roles Ronda has promoted citizen participation and direction in services, innovation, grass roots leadership development, research to inform practice, and has more recently been engaged in national advocacy and capability building activities. She is passionate about all people’s right to maintain control over their lives and have full citizenship in our community. Ronda is also Chair of the Consumer Policy Research Centre Board and a Director of Energy and Water Ombudsman Victoria, representing consumer interests in the utilities sector. Ronda holds a Bachelor of Economics, a Postgraduate Bachelor of Social Administration, and a Masters in Policy and Administration.

Merle Mitchell is a well known advocate and community worker who was the inaugural and long term Director of the Springvale Community Aid and Advice Bureau, a groundbreaking community organisation with a strong commitment to working with culturally and linguistically diverse communities. she has been a board member and President of the Victorian and Australian Councils of Social Service. Merle’s involvement in policy development and advocacy on a range of issues affecting low-income people led to her appointment to a number of senior government advisory boards at state and national levels. She currently advocates on a range of issues related to the rights of older Australians.

Nicole Marshall is a local government councillor serving her second term. She currently holds the planning and environment portfolios and was previously responsible for the community development portfolio. Nicole was also an audit committee member for many years and has a particular interest in governance. Nicole has been a lawyer for over a decade, and is currently the head of a regulatory authority. Nicole is involved in a number of community organisations and is a committee member of two neighbourhood houses. She is currently undertaking a Masters in Urban Planning and Environment.

Please register via EventBrite for a ticket to this important discussion.


RMIT University Storey Hall

336–348 Swanston Street

Melbourne, VIC 3000


10 May 2018