Department of Family and Community Services

Minister's foreword

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The Hon. Pru Goward MP Minister for Family and Community Services, Minister for Women

This is the second annual report on women’s progress towards equality in NSW. I was proud last year to fulfil an election commitment by publishing Women in NSW 2012; I am even more pleased to be publishing the second report in the series. One-off analyses can give us current snapshots and historical perspectives. However, a report series can track the progress we are making over time, build our understanding of major trends and identify where the real trouble spots in terms of gender equality lie.

One year is a short period of time and on many issues little has changed since 2012. But even in areas such as women’s workforce patterns where most indicators remain the same, there have been important shifts. Women’s unemployment rate, which had been consistently higher than men’s since the Global Financial Crisis, has fallen markedly in some high unemployment regions. Less positively, we see that trends such as young women’s increasing rate of self-inflicted injuries and women’s declining rate of political representation continue.

This year’s Report, comparing year-on-year change, highlights some real surprises, including how the gender gap in girls’ and boys’ school completion rates has reversed. The fact that this is mostly due to dramatic improvement in boys’ year 12 school completion also highlights the complexity of reporting on women’s progress.

Sometimes the gender gap narrows or closes because of shifts in men’s behaviour, not, or not only, because women’s lives have improved. Indeed, in some instances, greater gender equality can simply reflect declining outcomes for men.

This Report, like last year’s, steers a course through this complexity by looking at women’s progress in its own right, as well as making comparisons with men. It contains indicators that give us glimpses into the changing nature of women’s lives and are not primarily about forwards or backwards, or better or worse. Examples are women’s living arrangements, religion, birth rates and their preferences when giving birth. We also focus strongly on sub-groups of women this year, aided by the Census 2011 data now available on immigrant and Aboriginal women’s experiences.

Socio-economic status is also emerging as a significant factor in determining opportunities for women and girls.

I hope you find the Report useful, and urge you to read the focus topic in each chapter; here you will find in-depth analysis of contemporary policy issues. These focus topics present new research findings and this year include issues such as the under-reporting of domestic violence offences to the Police and what happens to early school leavers.

As with last year’s Report, we invite comment, reflection and debate and look forward to making the Report a useful document to support effective policy and practice, improving services in New South Wales.

Pru Goward MP

Minister for Women

Minister for Family and Community Services