Poverty in Australia Report 2014
On Sunday 12 October 2014 ACOSS released a new report revealing that poverty is growing in Australia with an estimated 2.5 million people or 13.9% of all people living below the internationally accepted poverty line.
The report provides the most up to date picture of poverty in the nation drawing on new data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics Income and Expenditure surveys for 2011-12 and previous years. It found that 603,000 or 17.7% of all children were living in poverty in Australia.
ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said:
"The report is deeply disturbing and highlights the need for a national plan to tackle the scourge of poverty which diminishes us all in one of the wealthiest countries in the world."
"The findings are a wakeup call for us as a community and shine a spotlight on the current policy direction of Federal Government. It provides an opportunity for the government to work with the whole community to reconfigure its first Budget and national policy priorities around the urgent need to address poverty in Australia.
"We need the development of a comprehensive national plan to tackle poverty if we are going to build on our great wealth and more fairly share the opportunities that will include all our citizens."
Read Full Statement: 2.5 million people living in poverty in Australia.
WATCH VIDEO: ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie speaking at the launch of the report.
Summary of key findings
- Poverty line (50% 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% of all people) living below the poverty line, after taking account of their housing costs;
- Child poverty - 602,604 children (17.7% of all children) living below the poverty line;
- Income support - 40.1% of people on social security payments living below the poverty line. Includes 55.1% of those on Newstart Allowance, 50.6% on Youth Allowance; 47.2% on Parenting Payment, 48% on Disability Support Pension, 24.8% on Carer Payment, and 15.7% of those on Age Pension;
- Unemployed - 61.2% of people who are unemployed were living below the poverty line;
- Working poor - 33.2% 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% to 13.9).
Location - 13.8% poverty in capital cities compared to 14% outside capital cities;
- Tasmania - 15.1% (Hobart 13.8%, rest of state 16%)
- Queensland - 14.8% (Brisbane 13.9%, rest of state 15.4%)
- NSW - 14.6% (Sydney 15%, rest of state 13.8%)
- Victoria - 13.9% (Melbourne 13.7%, rest of state 14.3%)
- WA - 12.4% (Perth 12.4%, rest of state 12.4%)
- SA - 11.7% (Adelaide 11.5%, rest of state 12.5%)
- ACT and NT - 9.1% (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% compared to 13%);
- Children and older people - face higher risks of poverty compared to other age groups (17.7% and 14.8% respectively);
- Sole parents - at high risk with 33% in poverty in 2012 and 36.8% 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%) than amongst those born overseas in an English speaking country (11.4%), or in Australia (11.6%);
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people - ABS data does not include information to accurately measure this poverty rate, however 2011 HILDA data found 19.3% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in poverty, compared to 12.4% of the total Australian population;
- People with a disability - latest available data does not allow this poverty rate to be calculated, however our previous report found 27.4% of people with a disability were living in poverty in 2009-2010 compared to 12.8% 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% of median household income, and adjusts for housing costs. The research was conducted for us by the Social Policy Research Centre at the University of New South Wales.
ACOSS research into Poverty and Inequality in Australia
ACOSS has a strong policy focus on poverty and inequality in Australia.
We are issuing a series of poverty and inequality reports, the first of which was the Poverty in Australia 2012 edition.
That report found that there are approximately 2,265,000 people, or 12.8% of all people in Australia who are living below the OECD poverty line of 50% of median wage. The report also found that there were some groups particularly at risk, including: people without paid work, children (especially in sole parent families), and people whose main source of income is social security payments.
The poverty report found that:
- 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.
For more information:
- Read Poverty, inequality and a modern social contract relevant for a changing world, a discussion paper about poverty in Australia and the UK by Julia Unwin, from the Rowntree Foundation in the UK.
- Check out all ACOSS Publications on Poverty