Diversity and representation on committees and working groups

DATE: Approved by Council 18 May 2004


AMENDMENTS: This policy supersedes the Women on Committees Policy C 8.2; 16 June 2014 (Director: Human Resources); 2 February 2020 (Executive Director: People, Talent and Culture)

REFERENCE AUTHORITY: Executive Director: People, Talent and Culture


South Australian Equal Opportunity Act 1984
Commonwealth Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012
University of South Australia Equal Opportunity Policy (C-2.4)


Policy statement

The University of South Australia is committed to the principle that membership on University committees and working groups within the University shall reflect our diverse workforce. The University aims to ensure that the appropriate diversity of employees is represented in decision-making processes.



Committees are permanent components of the University's governance structure and can only be created, modified or disestablished by the University Council or Academic Board. Committees may create working groups to assist them to fulfil their role.

Working groups are either ad hoc working parties established for a specified term to provide advice on specific issues, or on-going management groups that assist in the operation of the University. Working groups report as required to University committees and may or may not have formal terms of reference.

The following link provides a list of University committees. All other bodies are working groups.

Chair is a person appointed or elected to ensure that the proceedings of a committee or working group are conducted in a proper and orderly manner. The terms of reference of a committee/working group will direct the means by which a person occupies the chair.

Convenor is a person with responsibility for organising the meeting of a committee or working group. The convenor can also be the chairperson.

Designated members are members by right of the office held within the University. Designated members may delegate their places on a committee/working group in consultation with the Chair.

Nominated members are members nominated to represent groups or organisations from within or outside the University.

Elected representatives are elected by a particular constituency, however, once elected the member's responsibility may be to contribute to the committee and vote on decisions in the interests of the University, not to represent their constituency. The terms of reference of committees and/or brief of working groups should clarify whether the elected member represents a defined group. The chair of the committee and/or convenor of the working group should ensure members are aware of their role and responsibilities.

Non-voting members are members with responsibilities that may include the provision of support to the committee/working group. Alternatively, they may be required to attend from time to time because they have a responsibility to discharge, or they can provide technical information to the committee/working group. They do not have voting rights.'



1 Increasing participation from under-represented groups on decision-making committees or working groups is fundamental to achieving fair and equitable outcomes in both employment and education.

2 As committees or working groups make decisions that affect women in both employment and education, the participation of women on decision-making committees or working groups is fundamental to achieving equal outcomes.

3 Committee or working group membership should reflect the diversity of the University community and ensure that the richness this diversity provides is demonstrated in the University's decision-making processes.


Implementation requirements

The convenor and/or chair of a committee or working group is responsible for ensuring that membership complies with this policy. Where committees and working groups do not have appropriate diversity represented, the convenor and/or chair is responsible for ensuring strategies are in place to increase representation.

The executive officer of a committee or working group is responsible for maintaining accurate records of membership, strategies to increase the diversity of people represented, and providing membership information including diversity considerations, when required, to the People, Talent and Culture Unit.

Committees and working groups must be structured to ensure that the membership is representative and appropriate by providing opportunities for a diversity of people to participate in decision-making processes.

Strategies to increase the diversity of representation include the following:

  • To increase the diversity and representation of membership, where a designated member needs to delegate his/her place, he/she should give consideration to the principles of diversity.
  • Committees or working groups of up to five members are encouraged to include at least one member of each gender. Committees or working groups with membership larger than five will normally have at least one third of members from each gender.
  • Powers to nominate members can be used to ensure appropriate representation of all people affected by a working group or committee's decisions.
  • Where the chair and/or convenor of a committee or working group identifies limited diversity in the normal electorate, and the provisions for constituting the membership allow, members with relevant experience and expertise can be sought from elsewhere in the University.


Responsibilities and/or authorities

Chairs and/or convenors of committees and working groups are responsible for ensuring membership complies with this policy.

Executive Officers are responsible for recording the composition of their committees or working groups and steps taken to achieve appropriate and diverse representation.

The Executive Dean or relevant Director has responsibility for monitoring the implementation of this policy.



The effect of this policy will be evaluated by the People, Talent and Culture Unit and recommendations reported to the Vice Chancellor.


Further information or assistance

People, Talent and Culture Unit
People, Talent and Culture Business Partners
Managers of Research Institutes, Academic, and Central Units