It's time to stop short-changing women

Pay Equity Timeline


  • Women’s minimum wage set at 54% of men’s wages


  • Women’s minimum wage set at 75% of men’s wages


  • ACTU test case establishes principle of ‘equal pay for work of equal value’ 1986 Affirmative Action Act (Equal Employment Opportunity for Women) introduced


  • Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Act (EEOWA) introduced


  • Australia’s first Paid Parental Leave scheme
  • Review of EEOWA and Sex Discrimination Act
  • Pay Equity Inquiry launched
  • Fair Work Act defines equal pay more broadly as ‘equal remuneration for work of equal or comparable value’
  • BPW Australia and ACTU form Equal Pay Alliance to address the pay gap and invite businesses, unions, community groups and women’s organisations to join.


  • ASX Corporate Governance Gender Diversity Principles and Recommendations introduced.


  • Australian Services Union wins national Social and Community Services Pay Equity Case, properly valuing community work in the social and disability sectors.
  • Dad and Partner Pay Scheme introduced
  • Workplace Gender Equality Act introduced


  • Australian Council of Trade Unions launches the ‘Time To Care’ Campaign to improve work and family balance options for employees
  • Government provides funding to childcare sector to help increase wages for early childhood education and care workers
  • United Voice launches equal pay case for childcare workers.


  • The Workplace Gender Equality Agency expanded their national survey of employers to include remuneration data for the first time
  • G20 countries met in Sydney to discuss global trade and finance, bringing business leaders together at an important event highlighting the difference women;s empowerment and gender equity make to the bottom line
  • The Grattan Institute reported that a six per cent rise in female participation would increase the size of the Australia economy by around $25 billion a year
  • The Gender Pay Gap rose to 18.2%, which was the highest since the comparison between women's and en's average earnings were first produced in the early 1990's



  • The Gender Pay Gap reached its lowest level in 20 years at 14.6%
  • Responding to the unacceptably slow pace of change towards gender equality in Australia, leading organisations, which represent over 500,000 women in the workplace, came together to form the Australian Gender Equality Council (AGEC), a national not-for-profit organisation.

Bridging the gap

BPW Australia has advocated for equal pay for work of equal value for over 70 years. In April 2009 BPW Australia determined to galvanise advocacy around the issue of equal pay and gender inequity.

Australia’s national gender pay gap was then 15.3 % and improved slowly to 14.6% in 2018. BPW Australia knows that both employers and employees had to be engaged to bring about significant change.

Finding the right partners

Working together for success

Membership of the Alliance continues to grow, and it has a membership of 50organisations currently representing over 300,000 women. The Equal Pay Alliance continues to work collaboratively with Australia’s premier equal pay advocate the Workplace Gender Equality Agency enabling further dialogue around other issues affecting women and workforce participation.

Partnering was essential to the campaign and after extensive meetings in July 2009 BPW Australia reached a landmark agreement with the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) to form the Equal Pay Alliance. While business and unions are not usually allies, BPW Australia had identified the ACTU as a strong strategic partner with more resources and a broader audience than we could provide alone.BPW Australia issued a statement on pay equity, published the Memorandum of Understanding and the campaign began to recruit members to the Alliance. Just two months later some 130 members and organisations had joined.

The Alliance was fundamental to the national Equal Pay Day campaign in 2009. Multiple events were hosted across Australia and there were public events such as rallies in front of town halls and libraries where petitions were signed, bags were purchased, and members recruited. A marketing toolkit was developed generating national media coverage including prime time television and radio spots.

The success of the 2009 Equal Pay Day Campaign provided impetus for the Alliance and also provided the catalyst for the inaugural Equal Pay Alliance Breakfast Forum held in Canberra, the national capital, in March 2010. Attended by all relevant Government Ministers and the Deputy Prime Minster, the event highlighted the positive potential of collaboration and cooperation across different interest groups.


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