Average poverty gap by main source of income ($pw)

  The above graph shows the average poverty gap for households by main income source, and how that changed when COVID income supports were introduced in the fourth quarter of 2019-20. Average poverty gaps were higher for households relying mainly on wages ($324) or investment and other incomes ($499). The average poverty gaps for households mainly relying on social security fell substantially, by an average of $81 per week, when COVID income supports were introduced. Average poverty gaps for households mainly relying on wages or ‘other’ incomes rose (by $25 and $50 respectively), likely due to a change in the profile of households below the poverty line relying mainly on wages or investment income at this time.


Number of people in poverty by main household income source in 2019-20, and change in poverty

Half of people in poverty were in households relying mainly on social security (1,626,000 of all people in poverty). Over one-third of people in households in poverty relied mainly on wages (1,257,000 people of all people in poverty), reflecting the large number of wage-earning households overall. Poverty fell substantially (by 389,000 people) among people in households mainly reliant on social security. This was likely due to the $275 per week Coronavirus Supplement which almost doubled many of the lowest payments. Poverty also fell substantially - by 401,000 people - among people in households mainly reliant on wages, likely due to the introduction of JobKeeper Payment. Consistent with this, financial stress among households whose main income was from low-paid employment fell substantially in 2020 compared with 2019. On the other hand, poverty rose slightly (by 25,000 people) among people mainly reliant on ‘other’ income, which in this report mainly refers to investment income.


Number of people in poverty by family type in 2019-20, and change in poverty

  The largest number of people in poverty are found in couple-with-children families (1,076,000 people compared with 665,000 people in sole parent families) due to the greater number of couple-with-children families overall. Single adults under 65 years have a slightly higher rate of poverty than those 65 years and older. Poverty fell substantially by 509,000 people in couple-with-children families and fell slightly in single person households of working age and among older couples by 5,000 people and 12,000 people respectively. Most of the overall reduction in poverty (647,000 people) occurred in couple-with-children families. In contrast to couples with children, poverty among people (including children) in sole parent families rose slightly by 21,000 people in the June quarter of 2020. Poverty also rose slightly among couples of working age without children (by 14,000 people) and older single people (by 24,000 people).


Number of people in poverty by gender in 2019-20, and change in poverty

  As indicated above, the majority of people in poverty (1,754,000 out of 3,320,000 people) were women or girls. There were 1,765,000 people in poverty (men, women and children) in households where the main earner was a woman compared with 1,554,000 people where the main earner was a man.


Number of children in poverty in 2019-20, and change in child poverty

  As indicated above, 761,000 children were living in poverty in 2019-20. 316,000 children were in poverty in 2019-20, more than three times the poverty rate for children in couple families. Most children in poverty were in couple families (431,000 children) rather than sole parent families (316,000 children). Poverty among children fell substantially, by 245,000 children, when COVID income supports were introduced. Surprisingly, the decline in child poverty in sole parent families was only small (3,000 children) compared with the large reduction in couple families with children (211,000 children).


Number of people in poverty by age in 2019-20, and change in poverty

  The largest group living in poverty are people of working age (1,535,000 out of a total of 3,320,000 people in poverty) as that is the largest age cohort in the overall population. 761,000 children and 419,000 young people (15-24 years) are living in poverty. Among people aged 25 to 64 years, the poverty rate is below-average (1,535,000 people), reflecting the higher earnings of this age cohort. Poverty declined significantly for all age groups except older people when COVID incomes supports were introduced in the last quarter of 2019-20.


Rates of poverty and number of people in poverty in 2019-20, and changes in poverty after COVID income supports were introduced

The table below compares average rates of poverty in 2019-20 among different groups in the community (the percentage of people belonging to each group  in poverty) and also the number of people in each group in poverty. Note that poverty is a household measure, so the people in poverty shown here are members of households living below the poverty line.


Poverty gaps

This graph shows the average poverty gap for all households in poverty from 1999 to 2019. It is in 2019 dollars, and using the 50% median income after-housing costs poverty line. The higher (red) line shows poverty gaps measured using the pre-2007 ABS income definition, while the lower (dark blue) line is based on the post 2007 income definition. The light blue line shows the quarterly changes in the poverty gap during the 2019-20 period. The average poverty gap increased steadily from $168 per week in 1999 to $254 per week in 2009 (in constant 2019 values), then rose to $290 per week in 2017. Over that period the poverty gap followed a different pattern to the poverty rates during the same period, reflecting a combination of factors working against each other: * Changes in the composition of people below the poverty line after 2009 reduced the poverty gap before 2009 and increased it afterwards. These influences were partly offset by increases in housing costs throughout this…


Percentage of children in poverty from 1999-2019

This graph shows the percentage of children in poverty from 1999 - 2019, using the 50% of median income after-housing costs poverty line. The poverty line used is 50% of median income, taking account of housing costs. The lower (dark blue) line shows poverty rates measured using the pre-2007 ABS income definition, while the higher (red) line is based on the post 2007 income definition. The light blue line shows the quarterly changes in poverty rates during the 2019-20 period. It shows that child poverty, alongside the overall poverty rates, declined substantially from 1999 to 2003 (from 18.6% to 14.3%), then rose to 18.8% in 2007. It fell gradually to 17.6% in 2017. It also shows that child poverty rose sharply than fell dramatically during the first year of the pandemic (2019-20); from 16.2% in the September quarter of 2019 to 19% in the March quarter of 2020, then fell to 13.7%, a two-decade low, in June 2020.


Poverty lines by family type

This table shows poverty lines by family type in dollars per week, including social security payments.