Baseline data

Domain 1: Victorians live free from gendered norms, stereotypes and expectations

Domain 1 of Safe and Strong seeks to ensure freedom from gendered norms, stereotypes and gender-based violence. Specifically, Safe and Strong seeks to achieve two primary outcomes under this Domain, namely:


Victorians do not tolerate attitudes and behaviours that support gender inequality.


  • decrease in prevalence of reported workplace and everyday sexism, sexual harassment and gender discrimination
  • increase in positive bystander behaviour towards gender inequality and discrimination based on sex and gender
  • decrease in attitudes that justify, excuse, minimise, hide or shift blame for gender inequality and violence against women


Victorians model and promote a commitment to gender equality.


  • increase in the number of workplaces and organisations that demonstrate a commitment to gender equality
  • increase in support, recognition and value placed on unpaid work
  • decrease in representations of restrictive gender norms in the media, advertising and the arts

Gender inequality, gendered roles, power imbalance and some cultural attitudes drive family violence.

Preventing violence requires driving social and cultural change throughout the community. Shifting gendered attitudes and norms will lead to greater safety for Victorians in homes, communities and workplaces, from gender discrimination, sexism, sexual harassment and physical and sexual violence.

Women continue to experience higher rates of sexism, sexual harassment, gender discrimination and gender unequal attitudes

Experiences of sexism, sexual harassment and gender discrimination undermine women’s safety in their homes, communities, workplaces and educational institutions.

More than 20% of Victorian women reported experiencing sexual harassment in the past 12 months, compared with less than 10% of Victorian men.12 Within the Victorian Public Sector, 10% of women report experiencing sexual harassment, compared to 7% of men. The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) surveyed university students in 2016 and found that 32% of women and 17% of men had experienced sexual harassment in a university setting.

Attitudes to gender equality and violence against women have improved

Community attitudes can contribute to and exacerbate gender inequality. Increasing awareness and understanding of the impact of gender inequality will contribute to a culture of challenging gender inequalities and family violence.

Surveys that track attitudes towards gender equality point both to improved attitudes and persistent gender gaps. The National Community Attitudes towards Violence against Women Survey (NCAS) employs a composite measure to determine overall changes in attitudes, scored between one and 100. In 2017, the Victorian population’s Attitudes Supportive of Gender Equality (GEAS) mean score increased to 67, up from 64 in 2013.

At the state population level, levels of understanding of what behaviours constitute violence against women in Victoria have also increased, with mean scores improving from 62 in 2013, to 70 in 2017. The Community Attitudes Supportive of Violence Against Women Scale (CASVAWS) mean score decreased from 36 in 2013, to 32 in 2017, signifying that the Victorian population were less likely to condone or justify violence against women.

At the same time, there is still a continued need for community education about gender equality and the impacts of violence against women. For example, the NCAS – Young Australians Attitudes Survey identifies that 22% of young people believe there is no harm in making sexist jokes about women when among their male friends, and young men (30%) are two times more likely than young women to agree with this statement (14%). Further, 31% of young men and 19% of young women agree with the statement, ‘many women tend to exaggerate the problem of male violence’.

Gender equality is improving in Victorian workplaces and organisations but there is still progress to be made

Significant progress is being made in flexible working policies and strategies, where 73.1% of large non-public sector employers now have these arrangements in place.13 Increased availability and uptake of flexible working arrangements and inclusive policies by both men and women will allow all Victorians to have opportunities to participate.

The evidence shows that under-valuing unpaid care is related to poorer women’s health and wellbeing, limits workforce participation and is related to low rates of pay in industries such as childcare and community support.14 Unpaid work is equivalent to 50% of Victoria’s Gross State Product in 2017-18, with 63.2% undertaken by women. On average, Victorian women do 13.1 additional hours per week of unpaid work and care than men, which adds up to 681 additional hours per year.

The majority of primary parental leave is taken by mothers, and women are much more likely to use flexible working arrangements.


12 ABS Personal Safety Survey, 2016.
13 Workplace Gender Equality Agency, 2017-18.
14 Women’s Health Victoria, Spotlight on Women and Unpaid Care, 2018.

Victorians Model and Promote a Commitment to Gender Equality

Decrease in prevalence of reported workplace and everyday sexism, sexual harassment and gender discrimination.

Measure Baseline from available data Data source and type Reporting period
Number of complaints to the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC) relating to pregnancy, parental status, sex, sexual harassment and gender identity
29 on the basis of pregnancy
72 on the basis of parental status
226 on the basis of sex
156 on the basis of sexual harassment
21 on the basis of gender identity
VEOHRC – Annual Report 2017-2018 Annual
Proportion of people experiencing workplace sexual harassment within the previous 12 months, by gender
23% of women in the Australian workforce have experienced some form of workplace sexual harassment compared with 16% of men in the workforce. AHRC – Everybody’s Business: Fourth national survey on Sexual Harassment in Australian workplaces 2018 Cyclical (5 years)
Proportion of students experiencing sexual harassment and sexual assault in university settings within 12 months, by gender
In 2016, 32% of women and 17% of men experienced sexual harassment in university settings
2.3% of women and 0.7% of men reported being sexually assaulted in a university setting in 2015 or 2016
AHRC – Change the Course: National Report on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment in Australian universities 2017 Cyclical (4 years)
Proportion of people employed in the VPS who experienced sexual harassment, by gender
In 2018, 10% of women and 7% of men employed in the VPS reported sexual harassment VPSC – The State of the Public Sector in Victoria 2017-2018 Report Annual
Proportion of the Victorian population who experienced sexual harassment in the last 12 months, by gender
In 2016, 20% of females and
9.6% of males reported experiencing sexual harassment in
the previous 12 months
ABS – Personal Safety Survey 2016, Victorian data Cyclical (4 years)
Survey results about experiences of everyday sexism
8% of girls and young women aged between 15 and 19 believed they are always treated equally to boys Plan International and Our Watch – Everyday sexism – Girls’ and young women’s views on gender inequality in Australia Report No current plan for update

Domain 2: Victorians are empowered, healthy and safe

Domain 2 of Safe and Strong focuses on improving women’s health and wellbeing. Specifically, Safe and Strong seeks to achieve three primary outcomes under this Domain, namely:


Health and wellbeing are not limited by gender


  • improved sexual and reproductive health
  • improved mental wellbeing
  • improved physical health
  • increase participation of women and girls in sport and active recreation
  • improved outcomes for women in the criminal justice system


All Victorians are safe and treated with respect in their homes, communities and workplaces


  • increase in people reporting they enjoy safe, healthy and respectful relationships
  • reduction in all forms of family and sexual violence
  • increase in women feeling safe in public places
  • increase in connection to culture and community

Improving women’s health and wellbeing is critical to achieving gender equality. Yet, gender inequalities in workforce participation, unpaid care and work, pay and income security and social participation impact women’s physical and mental health.

Critically, family violence – which is driven by gender inequality – is also the leading cause of preventable death, illness and disability for women aged 15-44 years.

Women experience unequal access to sexual and reproductive health services across Victoria

When sexual and reproductive rights are supported, people have the information they need to make choices, autonomy to make their own decisions and access to services to exercise those choices. Australia-wide, women are more likely than men to have had discussion with their GPs about family planning or safe sexual practices.

Barriers and service gaps remain that affect women’s access to affordable sexual and reproductive services across the state, particularly in rural and regional Victoria.

Women experience a range of gender-specific health issues with wide-ranging impacts. Specific reproductive health issues – such as endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome require early diagnosis, effective treatment and management.

There are data gaps relating to the experiences of women with these conditions. Sexually transmissible infections also impact women’s sexual and reproductive health.

Meaningful improvements will require addressing barriers to social participation, breaking down gender norms, investing in appropriate gender- sensitive health services, and ensuring all women have the knowledge and support available to access appropriate, gender-sensitive health services.

Women continue to experience mental health disorders at much higher rates than men, particularly young women.

The lifetime prevalence of depression/anxiety has been increasing since 2008, but at a higher rate for men than women, with 33.6% of women compared to 21% of men having been diagnosed with anxiety or depression. Overall, 29.2% of women aged 18-24 feel that life is worthwhile, compared to 37.8% of all women. There were also 1,112 females aged 10 to 17 years presenting to hospital for self-harm compared to 327 males.

Social connections contribute to mental health. In 2016, 14.1% of Victorian females and 15.0% of Victorian males reported being involved in a civic or political group in the past 12 months. Participation varies considerably with age where male participation rates peak in the 50 to 54-year age group, while female participation rates are highest among 45 to 49-year-olds.

Women experience health disadvantages and some poorer health and wellbeing outcomes than men

The intersection between gender and other areas of disadvantage means many women experience multiple health disadvantages and have poorer health and wellbeing. For example, smaller proportions of women who do not speak English report excellent or very good health compared to women who do speak English (36.9% compared to 48.2%). There is also a health gap between women who are employed compared to those who are not in the labour force (51.1% compared to 38%). Women are also more likely to live with two or more chronic diseases compared to men (21.3% compared to 15.4%).

Many women and girls participate in sport and active recreation regularly but barriers to participation remain

Sport is part of the culture and identity of Victoria. The frequency of participation in sport and recreation is an important determinant of health. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) reports that a lack of physical activity is a key driver of chronic disease.15 Women and girls face barriers to their participation, such as caring responsibilities, body image and perceptions of safety, along with cultural norms about what activities are appropriate.16 There are significant differences in participation in structured activities – 20.9% of women did so in the year to 2018 compared with 33.8% of men.

Victorian women are still unsafe in their homes and communities

In the year ending June 2019, 75% of the victims who reported family violence to police were women. In addition, one-quarter (24.6%) of women have experienced physical assault and 16.9% have experienced sexual assault perpetrated by men since the age of 15.17 We also know that in a 12-month period, 5.3% of Victorian women experienced emotional abuse, 3.3% experienced physical violence and 2.2% experienced sexual violence. Only one third of women (32.5%) compared to two thirds of men (62.5%) feel safe walking alone after dark in the last 12 months. These statistics tell us that women are feeling a lack of safety in both the public and private realms and that they are facing physical, sexual and emotional abuse.


15 OECD, Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs, Health Division.
16 Women’s Health Victoria, Women and Physical Activity. Gender Impact Assessment, 2010.
17 Rates of physical and sexual assault perpetrated by women are much lower (1% of women report experiencing sexual assault by a woman, and 7% report experiencing physical assault by a woman). ABS Personal Safety Survey, 2016.

Domain 3: Victorians have equal access to economic and material security

Domain 3 focuses on ensuring gender equality in education, work and ultimately economic security. Specifically, Safe and Strong seeks to achieve three primary outcomes under this Domain, namely:


Victorians are rewarded equitably for their contribution in all aspects of society


  • increased gender income equity and security
  • increased representation of women in all settings and at all levels of leadership
  • increased diversity of women leaders


Participation in education and the economy is not limited by gender


  • reduced gender segregation in occupations and education
  • reduced gender gap in workforce participation


Access to safe and secure housing is not limited by gender


  • improved outcomes for homeless women, especially single mothers and older women
  • reduced housing stress for households headed by single women

Participation in learning, education, the economy and society is a key determinant of an individual's ability to influence their communities and shape their own lives. Entrenched gender segregation across industries, occupations and leadership impact equality of opportunity and contribute to the gap in gender pay observed across the economy.

Addressing the underlying causes of gender segregation, such as industry factors; cultural issues; education pathways; and flexible work is important in ensuring that participation in learning, education, the economy and society is not limited by gender.

Gender inequalities in income impacts on women’s lifetime economic security

Victorian women are more likely than men to be living on very low incomes, with 14.4% of women compared to 9.7% of men earning less than $299 per week in 2016. There is also a considerable gender gap (10 percentage points) in labour force participation as of August 2019.

These factors contribute to the overall gender pay gap, which for Victorian non-public sector agencies employing more than 100 employees was 9.3% in 2018. The issue is also replicated in the Victorian public sector, where women were more heavily concentrated in the bottom pay quintile (29% compared to 17% of men).

Older women are likely to have long-standing financial challenges with a 40% gap in superannuation savings between men and women. Moreover, 23% of Australian women retire with no superannuation compared to 13% of men.

Women are less likely to be represented in decision- making roles

In the local government sector, women comprise 38% of Councillors and Mayors, and 18% of local Council CEOs. Women are also less likely than men to stand for the Victorian Parliament and to be represented on ASX boards, charity and affordable housing boards. While women are now equally represented in new appointments to Victorian courts and tribunals, as well as to paid government boards, there are still gaps in the higher courts and also in appointments to several boards in traditionally male-dominated industries. Within the public service, the proportion of women declines in the higher levels of the executive, from 55% of EO3s to 34% on EO1s. Further work is also required to identify increases in diversity of women leaders to ensure decisions are being made that reflect the experience of women from all backgrounds.

Industrial segregation exists with significant underrepresentation of women in some vocational courses which impacts on their choice of profession

Young men in VCE are more likely to study subjects such as engineering and physics while young women are more likely to study dance and sociology. These subject choices influence the tertiary courses they pursue, with women representing only 8.8% of engineering courses, and 25.7% of information technology. The Australian economy would gain $8 billion if women transitioned from tertiary education into the workforce at the same rate as men. Closing Australia’s gender employment gap would boost gross domestic product (GDP) by around 11%, and by 20% if the productivity gap were addressed.18 This means addressing the vertical segregation where women are less likely to progress in their careers than men and horizontal gender segregation which can be seen in different industries, occupations and areas of education. For example, women make up just 12% of those employed in construction and 23.3% the workforce of transport, postal and warehousing workforce. On the other hand, women are 79.2% of health care and social assistance workers and 70% of education and training.

Addressing women’s material security will reduce their long-term housing stress and risks of homelessness

There has been a sharp rise in homelessness amongst women aged over 55, with an increase of 40% between 2011 to 2016. In addition, there are nearly double the number of women accessing Victoria’s Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS) compared to men (74,839 women compared to 42,033 men in 2017-18). In addition, women make up 66.6% of unassisted requests for SHS, compared to men who make up 33.4%.


18 Towards 2025: An Australian Government Strategy to Boost Women’s Workforce Participation.

Domain 4: The Victorian Government is a leader on gender equality

Domain 4 focuses on ensuring the Victorian Government is a leader in gender equality. Specifically, Safe and Strong seeks to achieve one primary outcome under this Domain, namely:


Gender equality is embedded in all Victorian Government decisions and actions


  • Increased focus on gender equality in Victorian Government procurement processes
  • Increased focus on gender equality in Victorian Government budgeting
  • Increased focus on gender equality in Victorian Government policy making

Attitudes towards empowerment and gender equality are an important driver of the cultural change required to achieve gender equality. The Victorian Government can continue to play a significant role, modelling and driving this change.

The Victorian government will continue to monitor the impact of its gender equality reforms on its procurement, budgeting and policy-making

The Victorian Government has embarked on a long- term reform program to increase gender equality, including the introduction of the Gender Equality Bill in parliament in late 2019. The Victorian Government is taking a lead on introducing a gender lens on all its work and in monitoring the progress of initiatives including introducing a gender impact analysis on its policy making and program delivery. Further baseline data and measures will be developed in alignment with the implementation of the Bill for the Victorian Government.