Woman in beanie and coat

Women in the ACT experiencing disadvantage

In 2017, a study was undertaken by the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM). The study was commissioned by ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) in partnership with Anglicare NSW South, NSW West & ACT; Belconnen Community Service; Marymead; St Vincent de Paul Society – Canberra/Goulburn; UnitingCare Kippax; Woden Community Service; and YWCA Canberra. The study was published for Anti-Poverty Week.

That study used 2016 Census data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics about people in low income households in very small areas (SA1 – around 150 households per area), and then compared these areas to the Australian capital city average. The study showed that Canberra’s high average income and education levels masked hidden pockets of disadvantage in which there were small areas with a high proportion of people living in low income households, with sole parent families with low income levels and high expenditures on rent, and with education disadvantage.

However, the data did not explore differences in the levels of disadvantage between women and men in the ACT.

WCHM engaged NATSEM to provide the data from the 2017 study, disaggregated by gender and at suburb level (as gender disaggregated data at the SA1 level was not available). Based on this new data, the report Hidden disadvantage among women in the ACT discusses the findings in relation to low incomes, sole parents on low incomes, and adults (aged 15 years or over) who have not completed Year 10 are not still studying.

The report shows that marginalisation in the ACT is gendered, and shows the geographic distribution of disadvantage in the ACT. Key findings include that:

  • There are two and a half times more women than men who are sole parents in low income households.
  • The proportion of women in the ACT who do not have at least a Year 10 level education is 5.8%. For men, it is 4.8%.
  • There is a correlation between suburbs with high proportions of women who are sole parents in low income households, and children in sole parent low income households, that does not exist at the same level for men in the ACT.
  • There is a correlation between suburbs with high proportions of women without at least a Year 10 level education, and suburbs that have a high proportion of women who are sole parents in low income households.

All disadvantages mapped in the report across 100 Canberra suburbs for which data was available in the 2016 Census:

The report was launched on Monday, 4th of June 2018 at University of Canberra, with a panel of speakers facilitated by Virginia Haussegger, Director of 50/50 by 2030 Foundation. Speakers on the panel were Susan Helyar, Director of ACTCOSS; Ashleigh Streeter-Jones, ACT Woman of the Year 2018; and Matt Grudnoff, Senior Economist at The Australia Institute. The report is available for download, or printed copies are available at the Women’s Centre for Health Matters.

A second report, looking at data provided by NATSEM about people in the ACT with incomes between $55,000 and $100,000 per year, will be published later in 2018, and will again look at the differences between women and men in the same income group.