4124.0 - Australian Women's Year Book, 1997  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 20/05/1997   
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May 20, 1997
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)

Women's Year Book 1997 released today

The Australian Women's Year Book, 1997 released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics is a compendium about the status of Australian women.

Material in the Year Book includes: a chapter on voluntary work; and, data from the National Health Survey, Survey of Income and Housing Costs and the Women's Safety Survey. The Year Book was jointly published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Office of the Status of Women.

Highlight data is as follows:

Population, birth and fertility
  • Just over half of the Australian population was female in June 1996.
  • In 1995, almost half of women aged 18 to 49 years reported that either they, or their partner currently used some form of contraception. The pill was the most common form of contraception at all ages.

Living arrangements and housing
  • In June 1996, 12 per cent of women and 10 per cent of men lived alone. Women over 65 years were more likely to live alone than men in that age group (40 per cent compared to 18 per cent).

  • The risk of developing, or dying, from breast cancer increases significantly with age. In 1995, 8 per 100,000 women aged between 25 and 44 years died of breast cancer compared to 215 per 100,000 women aged 85 and over.
  • 83 per cent of women assessed their health as being good to excellent. While the proportion who reported good to excellent health declined with age, about two-thirds of women aged 65 and over still reported good to excellent health.

Education and training
  • In May 1996, almost three-quarters of women aged 15-19 years were studying towards a recognised qualification, as were 29 per cent of women aged 20-24 years.
  • Since 1987 women have outnumbered men as higher education students. Almost half of these female students are studying arts, humanities and social sciences or business, administration and economics.

Employment and unemployment
  • During the past decade the female labour force has grown by 30 per cent, compared to 14 per cent for the male labour force.
  • In 1996, women in the labour force were about three times more likely than men to be employed part-time.

Voluntary work
  • In 1992 it was estimated that volunteer and community work contributed 8 per cent of the $227.8 billion value of unpaid work in Australia.
  • Australia-wide, 2.6 million people volunteered through organisations during the 12 months ended June 1995. 1.5 million (57 per cent) of these volunteers were women. Women had higher volunteer rates regardless of location, birthplace, age or family status.

  • In February 1995, there were 1.3 million people operating small businesses (those with less than 20 employees) and one-third of these operators were women (424,300).
  • 300,800 people operated a small business from home. Almost half of home-based operators were women, compared to almost one-third of operators from other locations.

Decision making, management and recognition
  • There were 46 women in federal parliament in 1997, representing one-fifth of all parliamentarians. 16 per cent of parliamentarians in the House of Representatives and 31 per cent of Senators were women.
  • The proportion of female State and Territory parliamentarians has steadily increased from 9 per cent in 1987 to 19 per cent in 1997.


Australian Bureau of Statistics:Media requests, interviews, comment
Laurie Brooks (06) 252 6139; 0418 481 756
Steve Dangaard (06) 252 7480; 0418 481 757
Statistical matters
Maelisa McNeill (06) 252 6174
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on the Status of Women:Media requests, interviews, comment
John Hewitt (06) 277 7560
Office of the Status of Women:Media requests, interviews, comment
Marilyn Chalkley (06) 271 5743; 041 7252 361