Equality is when everyone is given the same resources or opportunities. 

Equity is when each individual is given what they need to reach an equal outcome.

This well-known illustration demonstrates the difference between equality and equity. 

Impact of government policies based on equity vs equality 

Equality generally refers to equal opportunity and the same levels of support for all segments of society. An example of a policy focused on equality could be government subsidising of petrol (as WA State government does currently) as the subsidy is available to all, rich and poor alike, with no consideration for how increasing fuel prices affect households differently, depending on their access to discretionary funds.

Equity goes a step further and refers to offering varying levels of support depending upon need to achieve greater fairness of outcomes. Equity-focused policies take into consideration the unique needs of each population. For example, vaccine rollouts that prioritise people who are immune compromised could be considered applying a framework of equity rather than equality. 

“The route to achieving equity will not be accomplished through treating everyone equally. It will be achieved by treating everyone justly according to their circumstances.” - Paula Dressel, Race Matters Institute