The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) and UNSW Sydney have released the report ‘Poverty in Australia 2018‘, which estimates that more than three million people live below the poverty line in Australia, despite decades of uninterrupted economic growth and the Government’s adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals –where Goal 1 seeks to end poverty in all its forms.

The report is part of a five-year partnership between the institutions to monitor Australia’s progress in tackling poverty and inequality, supporting interdisciplinary research with the goal of influencing change to policy and legal settings.

Key findings

  • Before taking account of housing costs, the poverty line sits at $433 a week for a single adult living alone in 2015-16, and $909 a week for a couple with two children.
  • Over 3 million people, or 13.2% of the population, live below the relative poverty line. This includes 739,000 children living in poverty.
  • Most of those affected are living in deep poverty, at $135 below the poverty line per week, especially those relying on Youth Allowance and Newstart.
  • Wage-earning households represent 38% of all people in poverty.
  • Sole parent families have the highest poverty rates, at 32%, and children in sole parent families are three times as likely to live in poverty as those in couple families.
  • Australia has the 14th highest poverty rate among 34 OECD countries, and is part of a group of English speaking wealthy nations with above–average poverty levels.

Need for a poverty reduction plan

The report highlights the need for an agreed national definition of poverty, and lead researcher Professor Peter Saunders has called for regular monitoring and reporting by governments on progress in poverty reduction.

Rather than delivering another round of tax cuts, ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie suggests, the strong signs in the economy and the improved Federal budget position should be used to end poverty; strengthening social security, housing and employment policies.

(Source: Media release | Read the report)


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Topics – Poverty

Topics – Social Security

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