4125.0 - Gender Indicators, Australia, Sep 2018  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 25/09/2018   
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The Work and Family Balance section contains the following sub-topics:
  • Time use (parental leave (non-public sector), engagement in paid and unpaid work, caring for children)
  • Providing care (to a person with disability, to someone last week)
  • Time Stress and Work and Family Balance (whether rushed or pressed for time, whether feels responsibilities are in balance)
  • Overall life satisfaction (above average life satisfaction)
  • Volunteering (by labour force status, age and activity)

Detailed data for these sub-topics are available from the Downloads tab of this publication, above (see Data Cubes 10. Work and Family Balance and 11. Work and Family Balance - Selected tables with expanded populations).


Parental leave in the non-public sector

In 2016–17, women took 95% of the primary parental leave used by non-public sector employees. Conversely, 95% of secondary parental leave was taken by men.

Primary parental leave is leave taken by a member of a couple or a single carer, regardless of gender, identified as having greater responsibility for the day-to-day care of a child. Secondary parental leave is leave taken by a member of a couple or a single carer, regardless of gender, who is not the primary carer. Primary parental leave is the type of leave most likely to affect people's career trajectories.

Proportionally, managers were more likely than non-managers to use parental leave, either in a primary or secondary carer capacity. Around one in 14 women who were managers in the non-public sector accessed primary parental leave in 2016–17, compared with one in 23 women in non-managerial positions (a rate of 7.3 and 4.4 per 100 respectively). Primary parental leave rates for male managers and non-managers were 0.4 and 0.2 per 100 respectively.

More men used secondary parental leave (1.5 per 100 compared with 0.1 per 100 for women), with the managerial/non-managerial split for men being 2.4 and 1.4 per 100 respectively. Overall, 35,600 men employed in the non-public sector used some form of parental leave in 2016–17, compared with 94,500 women.

Over the last reporting year the Mining industry still has the highest take up rates of primary parental leave for women: 11.6 and 11.3 women per 100 female managers and non-managers respectively. The industry with the highest take up rates of primary parental leave for men was Financial and Insurance Services with 1.0 and 1.2 men per 100 managers and non-managers respectively. This was also the industry with the highest rates of secondary carer's leave for men (4.6 male managers and 4.1 male non-managers per 100 respectively). For more detail, see Table 10.3.

The Accommodation and food service sector had the lowest rates of people taking parental leave, with 6.4 women per 100 in managerial positions and 1.5 per 100 in non-managerial positions using primary parental leave.

Please note this data is collected from all people, not just parents, so numbers do not reflect the proportion of parents accessing parental leave. For context, in 2016, data from the publication Labour Force, Australia: Labour Force Status and Other Characteristics of Families (cat. no. 6224.0.55.001) shows that only 4% of families had children under two years (at which age parents may be likely to be taking some parental leave). Around 4% of female employees in couple families had children aged under two years, while 6% of male employees in couple families did. While this data cannot be output by sector of employment, the 2016 Characteristics of Employment survey shows similar proportions of private and public sector employees had dependent children under 14 years of age, therefore it could be assumed that this is also the case for children under two years only.

Overall life satisfaction

On the whole, Australians are a pretty happy bunch. In 2014, just over four in every five of us (81% of both women and men aged 15 years and over) rated their overall life satisfaction as 7 or more out of 10. Around one in seven Australians were completely satisfied with their lives: 14% of both women and men reported 10 out of 10. Roughly one in twenty women and men (5% and 4% respectively) were not as happy, reporting a life satisfaction score of between 0 and 4 (see Table 10.9).

Graph Image for Figure 1 - Overall life satisfaction, 15 years and over, 2014 (a)

Footnote(s): (a) Overall life satisfaction is measured on a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 = not at all satisfied, and 10 = completely satisfied. A score of 7 or more is seen as 'above average'.

Source(s): Data available on request, Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2014, General Social Survey, Australia, cat. no. 4159.0


In 2014, just under a third of Australians aged 15 years and over volunteered for an organisation or group. Women were slightly more likely to volunteer (33% compared with 29% of men). Between 2010 and 2014, rates of volunteering for both women and men had dropped by about 5 percentage points, from 38% and 34% respectively (see Figure 4 below and Table 10.10).

Graph Image for Figure 2 - Volunteering rate by sex, 2006, 2010 and 2014 (a)

Footnote(s): (a) Males and females who volunteered as a proportion (%) of total population aged 18 years and over for each sex (volunteers/ non-volunteers combined).

Source(s): Data available on request, Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2014, General Social Survey, Australia, cat. no. 4159.0

The largest decline in volunteering over this time (2010 to 2014), was for women who were employed part-time (dropping from 49% to 39%), followed by men who were employed full-time (from 39% to 29%). (See Table 10.10)

In 2014, people aged 35–44 years old had the highest rate of volunteering of any age group (45% of women and 34% of men) (see Table 10.10). This may be linked in part with parental responsibilities around this life stage, such as coaching, supervising other children, and helping out at school.

Volunteering activities

In 2014, people were most likely to volunteer their time for fundraising/sales activities (55% of female volunteers and 47% of male volunteers). Women were more likely to be involved in preparing/serving food (44% compared with 34% of men), while men were more likely to be engaged in coaching/refereeing/judging activities (35% compared with 19% of women), and repairing/maintenance/gardening activities (35% compared with 14%). (See Table 10.11)

Providing care

Primary care of a person with disability

In 2015, 6% of women and 3% of men aged 15 years and over provided primary care to a person with disability. Of those women and men who provided care, 13% and 26% respectively were employed full-time, and 27% and 14% respectively were employed part-time. Over half of those who provided primary care to a person with disability (57%) were not in the labour force (see Table 10.4).

Graph Image for Figure 3 - Providing care to a person with disability, by sex, 2009 to 2015 (a)

Footnote(s): (a) Persons 15 years and over, living in households. Includes those living in private and non-private dwellings but excludes those living in cared accommodation.

Source(s): Data available on request, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers, 2009, 2012 and 2015

In 2015, two-thirds of women providing care (67%) were aged 35–64 years old, while the majority of male carers (63%) were aged 55 years and older (see Table 10.4).

Employed carers

In 2007, 43% of employed women and 39% of employed men had provided care for someone, with 10% of these women and 8% of these men taking time off work to do so. Three quarters of employed women who cared for someone were caring for their own and/or step children (76%), with 9% caring for grandchildren. These proportions were 86% and 4% respectively for employed men (see Table 10.5).

Time Stress and Work and Family Balance

Whether felt rushed or pressed for time

In 2007, 42% of women and 35% of men felt they were always or often rushed or pressed for time. This was higher for those who provided care, rising to 55% of women and 46% of men. The main reasons women gave for feeling rushed or pressed for time were trying to balance work and family responsibilities (31%) and having too much to do or too many demands placed upon them (19%). For men, the main reasons were trying to balance work and family responsibilities (27%) and pressure of work or study (26%). (See Table 10.7)

Whether feels responsibilities are in balance

Around three in five employed Australians (58%) in 2007 felt their work and family responsibilities were always or often in balance, with 15% of women and 16% of men feeling they were rarely or never in balance (see Table 10.8).

Time Use

Paid and unpaid work, childcare

In 2006, the time spent on paid and unpaid work by people aged 15 years and over averaged 7 hours and 34 minutes per day for women and 7 hours and 25 minutes per day for men. This included employment related work, formal volunteer work and unpaid work in the home (domestic, child care and purchasing activities to support the worker's household, and caring for others outside the home (informal volunteer work)).

On average, women spent nearly half as long as men on employment related activities (2 hours and 21 minutes and 4 hours 33 minutes, respectively per day), while women spent nearly twice as long as men on activities associated with unpaid work, including time on domestic activities (2 hours 52 minutes per day, compared with 1 hour and 37 minutes per day for men) and childcare (59 and 22 minutes respectively per day). (See Table 10.1)

Women spent an additional 19 minutes per day and men an additional 17 minutes per day on employment related and unpaid work in 2016 compared to the time spent on these activities in 1997