Anti-poverty Week

The 12th-18th of October is anti-poverty week.  Whilst the definition of poverty is arbitrary, and no Australian government has ever adopted an official poverty line, most Australian research places it at 50% of the median income of Australians.  As the standard of living in the country improves, how a society defines poverty adjusts to the perceived average living standard.  As such, in Australia many people who have access to basic necessities, such as electricity, water, shelter and food, still meet the largely accepted criteria for living in poverty in this country.

Poverty has long researched associations with alcohol, tobacco and illicit drug use.  Relationships are also drawn between poverty and homelessness, poor mental health, poor general and oral health, consumption of energy-dense nutrient-poor food, and poorer educational outcomes.

Listed below is a selection of reports and resources on the topic of poverty in Australia.


Families, incomes and jobs, Volume 9: A statistical report on Waves 1 – 11 of the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey, 2014.

  • This report covers data collected from 2001-2011.
  • Report maintains that the percentage of people living on/under the poverty line was relatively stable from 2001-2011.  At 2011, 12.9% of responding households met the criteria for living in poverty
  • Poverty rates are highest amongst the elderly (23.9- 36.8% dependent on relationship status and sex) and lone parent families (27.4%)
  • Rates of lone parent families living in poverty sharply increased with the “Welfare-to-Work” reforms in 2006.  These reforms meant that some recipients were moved from a Single Parent Payment to the Newstart Allowance, reducing their income. In 2011, 29.5% of children in lone parent households were living in poverty
  • The report provides statistics into permanent poverty; assuming that in a given year a portion of respondents who meet the criteria for poverty may not in the following year.  The permanent poverty rate had increased from 8.5% (2003-2007) to 10% (2007-2011). There had been a sharp rise in permanent child poverty from 4.8% (2005-2009) to 7.8% (2007-2011) 

Advance Australia Fair? What to do about growing inequality in Australia, 2014.

  • Report provides insight into the growing inequality of income in Australia
  • Since the mid 1970s the income of the bottom tenth of earners has increased by 15%, whilst the income of the top tenth has increased by 59%
  • The top 20% account for 61% of all household wealth; whilst the bottom 20% account for 1% of wealth
  • The bottom 20% of earners rely on government payments for 3/4 of their income.  
  • The Newstart Allowance is reported to be the lowest unemployment benefit of all Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. 52% of recipients of Newstart reach the criteria for living in poverty 
  • Several suggestions are made for addressing this inequality; including, but not limited to, tax reform

Rental Affordability Snapshot, 2014

  • Anglicare assesses the affordability of housing using the measure that rent should be a maximum of 30% of a household’s earnings to be classified as affordable
  • The snapshot looks at properties available on one weekend. In 2014 this was the 5-6th April
  • Less than 1% of the properties available were affordable for those on government payments
  • 0.2% would be affordable for a single parent on Newstart

A snapshot of poverty in rural and regional Australia, 2014

  • Poverty rates are higher in regional and rural areas compared with metropolitan.  For example Queensland’s overall level of poverty in 2010 was 12.5% compared with 15% in rural areas
  • The average Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person’s income is 70% of the Australian average
  • There is no region in Australia where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a higher disposable income than non-Indigenous people.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people represent 2.5% of the population, and 25% of the homeless population

Interactive resources

Social Health Atlas of Australia
This interactive map allows you to examine social health by region across Australia.

On the Brink: Four Corners Report
A Four Corner’s report examining those who are living on a Newstart Allowance and how that affects their lifestyle and opportunities.

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