Not having sufficient resources to cover the basics and achieve a reasonable standard of living can have profound and long-lasting impacts. Poverty and disadvantage impact on social and emotional wellbeing, physical health, life expectancy and the ability to create a stable home environment. It can prevent communities from thriving.

This report, and its accompanying maps, examine where disadvantage occurs in NSW and those affected by it.

By using complex modelling techniques, NATSEM has produced poverty estimates for small areas (ABS SA2 geography) across NSW. The research breaks down poverty rates and gives us a sophisticated picture of where people living with disadvantage are located and who they are – including their age, sex, employment, family arrangements, and housing tenure. It shows us that the characteristics of people living with disadvantage can vary strikingly from one community to another.

Poverty is often talked about in terms of deficits, a lack of resources and the result of poor decision making or personal failure. This ignores the resilience, resourcefulness and fortitude required to get by each day. It also overlooks the structural issues contributing to significant economic disadvantage – the changing nature of work; declining opportunities in regional areas; a shortage of affordable housing; the impact of gender inequality; and inadequate income support policies that prevent people getting their lives on track. In this report we have used the term ‘poverty’ interchangeably with ‘significant economic disadvantage’ to help highlight the systemic nature of many barriers that people face.

Governments continue to place a strong emphasis on the importance of evidence-informed, data-driven policies and programs that result in measurable outcomes. This research is intended to feed into this evidence base by helping us see and understand how poverty affects our communities.

Key findings:

  • More than 888,000 people in NSW live with significant economic disadvantage – living below the poverty line – which is 13.3% of the total NSW population.
  • There is wide variation in the distribution of significant economic disadvantage – with overall poverty rates for different locations ranging from a low of 4.1% (Queanbeyan region) to a high of 28.3% (Guildford-South, Granville).
  • Of all age groups, children were the cohort most likely to be living in poverty. More than 1 in 6 children in NSW live below the poverty line.
  • Women have higher poverty rates than men. In terms of composition, of all people over the age of 15 living below the poverty line in NSW, women make up 53.6% compared to 46.4% who are men.
  • People without a job, including those unemployed and others not in the labour force, had higher rates of significant economic disadvantage than those who were working.
  • Having a job is not necessarily a guarantee of economic security – poverty rates for people in full-time and part-time work across the state were 5.0% and 7.0% respectively. But those who are unemployed have a significantly higher poverty rate at 33.8%.
Related Information

Mapping economic disadvantage in New South Wales: interactive tool

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