Australian women are paid 17.5% less than men doing the same work. Our friends, partners, sisters, daughters and mothers deserve better than this.
It's only right that equal work receives equal pay.
Equal pay is not just a women's issue and it is not just about women being paid less. It is also about women's work being undervalued in Australia. Why are social and community workers paid less? Is it because these are unimportant jobs or is it because women have traditionally done this work?
Women are not the only ones who are short changed when it comes to equal pay. The following timeline shows how far we have come but also how far we have to go.
Want to learn more about Equal Pay Day?
- Learn about the contributing factors to the gender pay gap in Behind the Gender Pay Gap and Gender Pay Gap: Fact or Fiction?
- Get a better understanding of gender pay statistics in the Gender Pay Gap factsheet.
- For practical tools and information on pay equity and the gender pay gap in the workplace see the EOWA Tools on Pay Equity and the Gender Pay Gap.
- Find out how small business can incorporate gender equity in the workplace at Economic Security 4 Women – Equal Pay Day 2012.
- Find out what is happening around the country for Equal Pay Day this year at Equal Pay Day Australia.
Equal pay through the years
Today | Indigenous peoples employed less
65% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are in the labour force compared with 79% of non-Indigenous people.
Today | Women get 17.5% less
In 2012, full time women workers need to work 64 extra days to get the same pay as men doing similar work.
2009 | Women's work still undervalued
An Australian Government committee releases an important report on the pay equity gap in Australia for women.
1999 | Promoting women in the workplace
The Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Act and the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency (EOWA) are created to promote equal opportunities for women in the workplace. This act expanded on the 1986 Affirmative Action (Equal Employment Opportunity for Women) Act, which recognized the need for equal opportunities for women in the workplace.
1984 | Sex discrimination is banned
The Sex Discrimination Act 1984, a Federal law to ban discrimination on the basis of sex, marital status or pregnancy and, in relation to employment, family responsibilities is introduced.
1972 | The value of women's work
The concept of equal pay extends beyond equal pay for equal work to equal pay for work of equal value. This is official recognition that women and men have historically worked different jobs and that women’s work has been underpaid even though it is of equal value.
1969 | Getting paid as a woman is over
Zelda D'Aprano chains herself to the Commonweath Building in Melbourne to campaign on equal pay and women’s workplace issues. And, after decades of campaigning, Australian women workers win equal pay rates as for men. This is the concept of ‘equal pay for equal work’. The wages of women were increased incrementally, with women’s wages finally catching up to men’s wages in 1972. 35 years later, Zelda D’Aprano was awarded the Officer of the Order of Australia in recognition of her campaigning on women's workplace issues.
1966 | Bar on married women removed
The bar on married women as permanent employees in the Federal Public Service is abolished. Prior to this time, other occupations such as teachers and flight attendants are also expected women to resign if they married.
1966 | From little things big things grow
Lupna Giari, head Aboriginal stockman at Newcastle Waters pastoral station, leads a walk-off of about 80 pastoral workers and their families. A few months later, Vincent Lingiari, head stockman at Wave Hill, south of Darwin, leads 200 workers and their families in a walk-off. The Wave Hill walk-off was not just about wages but also about land.
1966 | Aboriginal stockmen crack the whip
Aboriginal stockmen receive award wages, meaning that stockmen would be paid the same regardless of race. When the case was being heard, employers said that would change to ‘white labour if Aborigines are to be paid at award rates'. This did happen and many Aboriginal stockmen faced unemployment for the first time.
1950 | Women's wages: three-quarters as good?
A minimum wage for women is set at 75% of what men get.
1946 | The Pilbara strike
On Labour Day, 800 Aboriginal pastoral workers from 27 stations in Western Australia walk off the job for better pay and conditions. The Pilbara strike lasts until 1949.
Calendars made from labels from jam tins, were distributed to workers on all stations to mark off each passing day meaning workers would all go out at the same time.
1912 | Women's wages: half as good?
A minimum wage for women's work is created which is usually 54% of what men get. This continues until 1950.
1907 | Wages for 'the family'
The Harvester Judgment establishes the concept of the ‘family wage’. The family wage is a minimum weekly wage based on the ‘normal needs of the average employee’ to keep his wife and children healthy and comfortable. An average employee is white and male.
1890-1985 | Work but no pay
Most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are controlled by Australian governments through ‘Protection’ Acts. Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people work as domestic servants and pastoral workers with money paid into trust funds administered by the Government rather than proper wages paid to workers. The Protection Acts allow this to occur.
Australian women have to work an extra 64 days a year to get the same pay as men doing the same work.