Poverty in Australia today

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The ACOSS Poverty Report reveals that more than 2.5 million people or 13.9% of all Australians are living below the poverty line. This includes 603,000 children, or 17.7% of all children in this country who are living in poverty.

The figure is up almost 1 per cent or around 250,000 on the previous figure – from 2.3 million to 2.5 million people.

Having a job is not a protection from employment – a third of those living below the poverty line were in employment.

ACOSS Poverty in Australia 2014

Summary of key findings

  • Poverty line (50 per cent of median income) – for a single adult was $400 per week, for a couple with 2 children it was $841 per week;
  • Poverty rate – 2,548,496 people (13.9 per cent of all people) living below the poverty line, after taking account of their housing costs;
  • Child poverty – 602,604 children (17.7 per cent of all children) living below the poverty line;
  • Income support – 40.1 per cent of people on social security payments living below the poverty line. Includes 55.1 per cent of those on Newstart Allowance, 50.6 per cent on Youth Allowance; 47.2 per cent on Parenting Payment, 48 per cent on Disability Support Pension, 24.8 per cent on Carer Payment, and 15.7 per cent of those on Age Pension;
  • Unemployed – 61.2 per cent of people who are unemployed were living below the poverty line;
  • Working poor – 33.2 per cent of people below the poverty line came from a household with wages as their main income;
  • Overall growth in poverty – Poverty increased between 2010 and 2012 by nearly one per cent (from 13 per cent to 13.9 per cent).

Location – 13.8 per cent poverty in capital cities compared to 14 per cent outside capital cities;

  • Tasmania – 15.1 per cent (Hobart 13.8 per cent, rest of state 16 per cent)
  • Queensland – 14.8 per cent (Brisbane 13.9 per cent, rest of state 15.4 per cent)
  • NSW – 14.6 per cent (Sydney 15 per cent, rest of state 13.8 per cent)
  • Victoria – 13.9 per cent (Melbourne 13.7 per cent, rest of state 14.3 per cent)
  • WA – 12.4 per cent (Perth 12.4 per cent, rest of state 12.4 per cent)
  • SA – 11.7 per cent (Adelaide 11.5 per cent, rest of state 12.5 per cent)
  • ACT and NT – 9.1 per cent (No separate data available due to small sample sizes in ABS survey).

Most at risk groups

  • Women – significantly more likely to experience poverty than men (14.7 per cent compared to 13 per cent);
  • Children and older people – face higher risks of poverty compared to other age groups (17.7 per cent and 14.8 per cent respectively);
  • Sole parents – at high risk with 33 per cent in poverty in 2012 and 36.8 per cent of all children in poverty were in sole parent households;
  • Born overseas – Poverty is higher amongst adults born in countries where the main language is not English (18.8 per cent) than amongst those born overseas in an English speaking country (11.4 per cent), or in Australia (11.6 per cent);
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – ABS data does not include information to accurately measure this poverty rate, however in 2011 HILDA data found 19.3 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were living in poverty, compared to 12.4 per cent of the total Australian population;
  • People with a disability – latest available data does not allow this poverty rate to be calculated, however a previous report found 27.4 per cent of people with a disability were living in poverty in 2009-2010 compared to 12.8 per cent for the total population.

About the Poverty Report
This Poverty in Australia 2014 is the third report in ACOSS’ poverty series and updates earlier reports with new data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics Income and Expenditure surveys for 2011-12 and previous years. It uses the internationally accepted poverty line, defined as 50 per cent of median household income, and adjusts for housing costs. The research was conducted by the Social Policy Research Centre at the University of New South Wales.

Find a copy of the poverty report here: http://acoss.org.au/policy/poverty/