Trends in average wealth

This shows changes in the real value (after inflation) of net household wealth. The average value of household wealth (minus debts such as home mortgages) rose steadily from $644,000 in 2003-04 to $836,000 in 2009-10, when the Global Financial Crisis occurred. Average wealth then dipped slightly to $802,000 in 2011-12 before rising again to $936,000 in 2015-16.

Rate of poverty by housing tenure

This graph shows the poverty rate of people by housing tenure –whether they own the house with or without a mortgage; whether they rent either privately or publicly; or whether they have another form of occupation type. 

2017-18: The graph shows that the risk of poverty is twice as great (19% using 50% median income poverty line and 28% using 60% median income poverty ine) for people in households renting privately than for home-owners (9% using 50% median income poverty line or 19% using median income poverty line) or home purchasers (9% using 50% median income poverty line or 13% using median income poverty line), reflecting the higher cost and/or lower incomes of people in private rental housing.

2015-16: The graph shows that households who rent privately have twice has much risk of poverty (at 21% using 50% median income poverty line and 31% using 60% median income poverty line) than households who own their home (8% using 50% median income poverty line or 18% using 60% median income poverty line) or who hold a mortgage on their property (9% using 50% median income poverty line or 14% using 60% median income poverty line). It shows that poverty is highest among those in public or community housing (49% using 50% median income poverty line and 67% using 60% median income poverty line).


Sarah* lives in Victoria. She was unemployed for more than a year.

"Being without paid work was very, very hard. I've definitely struggled. Very isolating - I lost touch with friends because I couldn't afford to do anything other than pay my rent.

It was a very difficult time."

(Not their real name. Photo by Edgar Hernández on Unsplash. Representational only. Sarah is a survey respondent from ACOSS (2018): Voices of Unemployment.)


Paul is a 47-year old single male who was made redundant 18 months ago, after 27 years in the public service, the only job he ever knew. Paul bought a house after separating from his partner two years ago. He now lives alone and has fortnightly weekend visits from his school age children. Paul receives income from JobSeeker, as well as from a casual job he has delivering junk mail for $100 per fortnight. He has been diagnosed with depression, has high cholesterol, and complications from a stomach operation. His budget leaves him with a $60 deficit per fortnight, meaning he has no money for car repairs and other unexpected costs. Without an increase in his income, Paul will continue to be in severe financial hardship. (Source: Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand. Photo by Trevor Brown on Unsplash. Image representational only)


Amina is a 44-year-old single mother from a migrant background and has been actively seeking fulltime employment for two years. She has four children, between 7 - 20 years old. Her eldest child is currently studying. Amina receives $1,500 per fortnight – $500 of which is from working part-time as a cleaner, $500 from JobSeeker and $500 from income support payments she is eligible to receive as a single parent. Amina has always been up to date with her mortgage repayments however this has come at the cost of paying off her utilities arrears and being able to afford to eat three meals a day. She has had to use a cash converters loan to pay her most recent rates bill. (Source: Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand. Photo by Artur Aldyrkhanov on Unsplash. Image representational only)

ACOSS and UNSW to tackle poverty and inequality through new collaboration

The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) and UNSW Sydney will work to tackle poverty and equality ‘head on’ through a new collaboration being launched Thursday 8 February 2018.

The collaboration includes backing of various ACOSS member organisations, UNSW, and philanthropists to the value of $2 million over 5 years.

Although well-being is high, the latest OECD Economic Survey of Australia 2017 reports unequivocally that inequality has risen in Australia. The struggle to afford basic daily needs is a serious problem for many people in Australia despite being a wealthy country. Nearly 3 million people live below the internationally accepted poverty line, of which 731,000 are children.


Dr Cassandra Goldie, head of the Australian Council of Social Service, has a PhD in Law from UNSW. At the university she met Professor Peter Saunders, from the Social Policy Research Centre, with whom ACOSS has now partnered to produce landmark reports into poverty. Close to three million Australians were living below the poverty line in 2014. “As a country that prides itself on an egalitarian culture, we should be determined to change this picture,” says Cassandra Goldie.

Shortly after joining the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS), Goldie, a UNSW alumna, approached Peter Saunders from UNSW's Social Policy Research Centre (SPRC) with the idea of starting a partnership to bring the neglected underbelly of Australian society into the public gaze. Its lack of visibility was partly due to the fact that Australia does not produce an official report on the subject.

Read more in the UNSW Newsroom