The Poverty in Australia 2020 report is the latest in the Poverty in Australia series, part of the Poverty and Inequality Partnership between ACOSS and UNSW (Sydney). This is the sixth ACOSS report on poverty and the third joint report from the Poverty and Inequality Partnership. It updates earlier poverty reports.

This first part of Poverty in Australia 2020 shows the proportion of all people, and children, living in poverty in 2017-182 (the latest year for which household incomes data are available from the Australian Bureau of Statistics), together with the average gap between household incomes and the poverty for those living below it (the ‘depth’ of poverty). It also outlines trends in overall poverty levels from 1999 to 2017 and discusses the main drivers of changes in poverty including trends in overall household disposable incomes, social security payment rates, and housing costs.

Subsequent parts of the report will be released through 2020, dealing with:

  • Levels of poverty, and the profile of those in poverty in 2017, among different demographic groups and people with different sources of income; and
  • Trends in poverty among these groups.

This information contributes to a better understanding of the extent of poverty, the circumstances of financially vulnerable and disadvantaged people in Australia, and the main factors influencing poverty levels.

Key findings:

  • 3.24 million people in Australia (13.6% of the population) live below the poverty line. 774,000 children under the age of 15 (17.7% of all children in Australia) live below the poverty line.
  • More than one in eight adults and one in six children live below the poverty line in Australia.
  • The poverty rate in Australia is worse than in most other wealthy countries. It is worse than in New Zealand, Germany and Ireland, according to the latest figures from the OECD.
  • In Australia, the poverty line (measured as 50% of median income) is $457 per week for a single adult. The single rate of Youth Allowance (plus Rent Assistance and Energy Supplement) is $168 per week below the poverty line. The single rate of Newstart (plus Rent Assistance and Energy Supplement) is $117 per week below the poverty line. The single rate of the Age Pension (plus Pension and Energy Supplements) is closer to the poverty line, but still $10 per week below.
  • A survey of young people on Youth Allowance found 9 in 10 skip meals and 1 in 3 have withdrawn from their studies because of a lack of funds.
  • A survey of people on Newstart found more than 8 in 10 regularly skip meals and more than half have less than $15 a day left after housing costs.
  • Newstart, Youth Allowance and Rent Assistance have not increased in real terms in 25 years. ACOSS is calling for a $95 per week increase to Newstart and Youth Allowance; a $20 per week increase to Rent Assistance (as a first step) and for these payments to be regularly indexed to wages, as is the case for the Age Pension.
Related Information

Poverty in Australia 2020 - part 1: overview - supplement

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