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Australia falling behind in gender pay gap, women's safety and incarceration rates, new report shows

A woman walking at night

Australia is performing poorly in women's safety and income equality as well as a number of other key social issues compared with other OECD countries, a report by the Community Council for Australia has found.

The report is the first of its kind and its authors said it was designed to measure how Australia performs against key values and goals prioritised by more than 60 charity and non-government organisations.

Compared with OECD counterparts, Australia fell short in many of the rankings.

More than half of Australian women surveyed said they did not feel safe walking alone at night — well below the OECD average of 60.6 per cent.

In comparison, nearly 80 per cent of Australian men said they did feel safe walking home.

Council chair Tim Costello said this highlighted an important relationship between men and women and should prompt discussion about the causes.

"We men actually have to have a conversation about why our wives and partners and daughters are actually feeling that," he said.

The report also highlighted the gender pay gap as a major issue.

The council said Australian women were paid 17.3 per cent less than their male counterparts.

Although the employment figures were high compared to other OECD countries, the gap between male and female employment remains.

Mr Costello said more work must be done in guaranteeing Australian women had the same access as men.

"We want values to say gender equality actually is our value and we've got to address pay and safety," he said.

High incarceration rates, education statistics also 'worrying'

The report also highlighted Australia's high incarceration rates, which are rising by 6 per cent a year and are now three times that of Ireland.

In the Northern Territory, they are not only four times higher than the national average, but even higher than the global outlier in incarceration rates, the United States.

According to the report, one in five Australians aged 15–74 did not complete secondary education.

The authors said this was "worrying" given the negative repercussions of poor educational attainment for many people.

The report also found that Australians were volunteering less and sending less money to aid organisations overseas.

But Australia is above average compared to other OECD countries in equality of access to employment, education levels, and business confidence.