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Hidden in plain sight: the impact of the COVID-19 response on mature-age, low-income people in Australia

Ageing workforce COVID-19 Mature-age workers Socio-economic disadvantage Older people Economic insecurity Australia

The Brotherhood of St Laurence and Nous Group have partnered to analyse the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic public health response on low-income earners aged 50 to 65. Not yet eligible for the pension or aged care, many of these people are caught between employment and retirement: too old to work and too young to retire.

Australian governments have responded swiftly to the pandemic. Many mature-age, low-income people will benefit from these initiatives. However, most interventions have involved short-term increases in funding, channelled via existing systems and service structures. COVID-19 has highlighted that existing policies do not meet the needs of people who face entrenched disadvantage.

In this paper, the authors focus on broad and multidimensional disadvantage including:

  • employment
  • economic security
  • housing
  • health and connections.

Medium- to long-term solutions for these people require overcoming structural inequalities and barriers that existed prior to COVID-19. The authors propose immediate steps to provide relief, as well as ways forward to achieve lasting change.

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