Our National Shame: nearly 3 million Australians live in poverty

Nearly three million people were living in poverty in Australia in 2014, or 13.3% of the general population according to the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS.)

Worse still the report  – Poverty in Australia 2016 – shows that 731,300 children or 17.4% of all children in Australia are living in poverty, an increase of 2 percentage points over the past 10 years (from 2004-2014).

Snapshot of poverty in Australia – in 2014:

  • The poverty line (50% of median income) for a single adult was $426.30 a week. For a couple with 2 children, it was $895.22 a week. australia
  • 2,990,300 million people (13.3% of the population), were living below the poverty line, after taking account of their housing costs.
  • 731,300 children under the age of 15 (17.4% of all children) were living below the poverty line.
  • Child poverty in Australia increased by 2 percentage points over the decade 200304 to 2013-14.
  • 1% of people receiving social security payments were living below the poverty line, including 55% of those receiving Newstart Allowance, 51.5% receiving Parenting Payment, 36.2% of those receiving Disability Support Pension, 24.3% receiving Carer Payment, and 13.9% of those on the Age Pension.
  • 3% of people below the poverty line relied upon social security as their main income and 32.1% relied upon wages as their main income.
  • Between 2012 and 2014, poverty rates increased for: children in lone parent families (36.8 to 40.6%), those receiving Youth Allowance (50.6 to 51.8% and those receiving Parenting Payment (47.2 to 51.5%). They remained very high (61.4% to 59.9%) from 2007 to 2014 for unemployed households.
  • The vast majority of people below the poverty line were in rental housing in 2014 (59.7%), with most in private rental housing (44.2%). Only 15.5% of people living below the poverty line were home-owners.

Poverty in Australia

The report finds that :

“The overall picture from the last decade is one of persistent and entrenched poverty across the community with an increase in child poverty.  It is a national shame that after 25 years of economic growth, we have not done better at changing this trajectory and ensuring our most precious national resource, our children, are given the best possible start in life,” said ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie.  

“Those most at risk are children in lone parent families, who are more than three times likely to be living in poverty (40.6%) than those from couple families (12.5%). Since 2012, the poverty rate for children in lone parent families has gone up from 36.8 to 40.6%.

“The housing profile of people below poverty highlights the concentration of disadvantage in the rental market. The vast majority of people below the poverty line are in rental housing (59.7%), with most in private rental housing (44.2%). Only 15.5% of people living below the poverty line were home-owners.

“The report confirms that people who are unemployed are at greatest risk of poverty, with 63.2% living in poverty. Unsurprisingly, the majority of people below the poverty line relied on social security as their main source of income (57.3%), but a significant proportion received wages as their main income (32%). This indicates that having a job is no guarantee of keeping people above the breadline, especially if the job is low paying and insecure.

“Our report shows those doing it the toughest are overwhelmingly people living on the $38 a day Newstart payment, 55% of whom are in poverty. This is followed by families on Parenting Payment (51.5%), the majority of whom are lone parents with children. recession australia note money economy squeeze tighten save saving budget cut

“This report is a further wake up call to the Government to address the inadequacy of the lowest income support payments and bolster support to low income families through the family payments system. It is also a reminder that housing remains the biggest cost of living issue for households and must be addressed as a policy priority.

“Newstart and Youth Allowance are $110 and $158 a week below the poverty line respectively. Along with improvements to training and employment supports, an increase to these payments of at least $50 a week would go some way to alleviating poverty and improve people’s chances of finding paid work.

“The alarming increase in child poverty revealed by this report should also act as an urgent appeal to senators to reject further cuts to family payments, currently before the upper house. The cuts would strip another $60 a week from single parent families. The current proposal to withhold Newstart support for young people for up to four weeks should also be rejected. Both proposals would likely lead to increased poverty.

“At the start of Anti-Poverty Week, we call on all political leaders to put reducing poverty at the centre of the policy agenda. This must include assessing the poverty impact of all major policy changes,” Dr Goldie said.

DOWNLOAD THE FULL REPORT AT: http://www.acoss.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Poverty-in-Australia-2016.pdf

Also published on Medium.

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Michael is a director of Metropole Property Strategists who create wealth for their clients through independent, unbiased property advice and advocacy. He's been voted Australia's leading property investment adviser and his opinions are regularly featured in the media. Visit Metropole.com.au

'Our National Shame: nearly 3 million Australians live in poverty' have 2 comments

  1. October 18, 2016 @ 7:49 am Peter

    Give a poor man a fish you’ll feed him for one meal, teach him to fish and you’ll feed him a lifetime.


    • October 18, 2016 @ 7:53 am Michael Yardney

      Peter, Similarly I believe that if you took all the money in the world and distributed it equally, it would be back int he same proportions again in 3 or 4 years time. There will always be rich and poor. I see it as the rich’s obligation to teach the poor and bring them up a level rather than brining everyone down to the lowest common denominator


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