Poverty is deep and entrenched in the lucky country

16 October 2018

The Poverty in Australia 2018 report was launched today at the National Press Club to coincide with Anti-Poverty Week.

Its findings show that:

  • Just over 3 million people live below the relative poverty line (defined as a single adult living on less than $433 a week or $909 for a couple with two children)
  • 1 in 8 adults and more than 1 in 6 children are living in poverty
  • Many of those affected are living in deep poverty—on average, $135 per week below the poverty line
  • Those experiencing poverty at the highest rates are unable to get paid work and rely on Government allowances such as Youth Allowance, Newstart and Parenting Payment Single

Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand is a partner in this research led by the Australian Council of Social Service and UNSW Sydney.

“It’s a terrible indictment on our wealthy nation that poverty is so deep, widespread and entrenched,” said Stella Avramopoulos, CEO, Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand.

“Women in particular are impacted and are over-represented in the poorest groups,” she said. “Sole parent families have the highest poverty rates at 32 per cent, with women making up 82 per cent of this group.”

Ms Avramopoulos noted that changes to income support payments, such as moving sole parents from Parenting Payment Single onto Newstart, have pushed more women into poverty.

Up until 2005, the sole-parent poverty rate was around 19 per cent. This jumped to 23.9 per cent in 2007. In addition, the transfer of 80,000 sole parents to the Newstart Allowance in 2013 is associated with an increase in the rate of poverty among unemployed sole parents from 35 per cent in 2013 to 59 per cent two years later.

These increases are having a serious impact on children. The risk of poverty for children in sole parent families is 3 times that for children in couple families (39% compared with 13%).

“Such poverty is unacceptable and we call for the Parenting Payment Single and Newstart Allowance to be indexed to the minimum wage. This is one of the levers the Australian Government can use to reduce poverty among this group,” added Ms Avramopoulos.

“We support the Australian Council of Social Service’s call for the Australian Government to create a national plan to end poverty in all its forms. One that includes regular monitoring and reporting by governments on progress.”

→ Read the report