Tracking equity: comparing outcomes for women and girls across Australia

19 Nov 2013

This report finds that girls and young women across Australia have achieved equity in education, but gaps remain in workforce participation.

About this report

In 2012, COAG and the Select Council on Women’s Issues asked the COAG Reform Council to report on the equality of outcomes for women and men in priority reform areas. This report, our first on outcomes by gender, looks at the experience of Australian women and girls in the context of the national reform agenda.

The national reform agenda

On 13 February 2011, COAG streamlined its 2008 reform agenda into five overarching themes common to all Australian jurisdictions. This report focuses on outcomes for women and girls across two of those key themes: a long-term strategy for economic and social participation; and better health services and a more sustainable health system for all Australians.

We have also drawn from the objectives of COAG’s six National Agreements on health, housing, education, skills, disability and Indigenous reform in framing the indicators used in this report.

Comparing outcomes for women and men across Australia

In the report we highlight outcomes for women and girls—across the lifespan and across the nation. Where possible, we compare results for jurisdictions. We specifically examine:

• education and training outcomes and post-school study and work prospects

• participation in the labour force, as well as leadership and pay equality

• health outcomes and use of health services

• use of homelessness services, and the reasons why women need them

• whether women with disability are receiving support for economic and social participation

• the contribution of women as carers, and the impacts on economic participation and wellbeing.

At Appendix C we provide information on the demographic contexts relevant to these comparisons.

Outcomes for different groups of women and girls

This report looks at whether different groups of women and girls are benefiting from COAG’s reform agenda. Where data are available, we examine whether Indigenous women are benefiting from COAG’s reform goals at the same pace as non-Indigenous women. We also compare outcomes for women with disability and women from different socio-economic backgrounds, and examine how geographic location impacts on some outcomes.

Data limitations

In some important areas, the council is hindered in its reporting on outcomes for women and girls by the lack of nationally comparable and recent data.

For instance, there are no recent national data on women’s experience of domestic and sexual violence, key issues related to economic and social participation and women’s health. The most recent data are from ABS’ 2005 Personal Safety Survey. Data from the 2012 survey will be available at the end of 2013. If COAG agrees to the council reporting on gender outcomes in 2014, we propose to undertake detailed analysis of the data in our next report.

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