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ACOSS has supported increases in payments for single pensioners

ACOSS has worked since inception to increase the participation of all people in our society, through our policy development and advocacy of social security and community services.


Key findings:

  • 2,265,000 people (12.8%) were living below the poverty line
  • 575,000 children or 17.3% were living below the poverty line
  • 63% of people in unemployed households were below the poverty line
  • 25% of people in lone parent households were below the 50% poverty line
  • 37% of people in households whose main income was social security were living below the poverty line.
  • Among people in households where the main income earner received the following payments, the following proportions lived below the poverty line, after taking account of housing costs:
    • Newstart Allowance, 52%
    • Parenting Payment, 45%
    • Disability Support Pension, 42%
    • Carer Payment 24%
    • Age Pension, 14%.
  • 62% of people below the poverty line came from households with social security as their main source of income, but a sizeable minority (29%) were in households with wages as the main income source. This 29% figure is due to the higher number of wage-earning households overall. It is likely that most of these people live in households where people receive part time earnings only, or are raising children on a low wage.
  • 14% of women were below the poverty line compared to 12% of men
  • 54% of people living in households below the poverty line were female compared to 46% male
  • 26% of adults living in households below the 50% poverty line came from a non English-speaking country
  • The level of poverty was higher (13.1%) outside capital cities than in capital cities (12.6%)
  • The proportion of people in poverty rose by approximately a third of a percentage point from 2003 to 2010 but it is difficult to compare poverty levels over the long term due to changes in the various ABS surveys.

About the research

This research was conducted for us by Social Policy Research Centre at the University of New South Wales. The data source is the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Income and Expenditure surveys for 2009-10 and previous years. The poverty line is calculated as a proportion of the disposable income of a ‘middle income’ (median) household. The report uses the austere 50% measure, but also makes a comparison at the higher 60% measure used in Britain, Ireland and the European Union. The research takes into account people’s housing costs as well as their incomes by deducting average housing costs (rents, mortgage payments and rates) from the relevant poverty line and deducting each household’s housing costs from their incomes.

Check out all ACOSS Publications on Poverty