One in eight people in Australia are living in poverty

One in eight people in Australia, including one in six children are living in poverty, a new report released on the eve of Anti-Poverty Week has found, as cost of living pressures continue to put households under strain. As many as 13.4 per cent of the population (or 3.3 million people) and 16.6 per cent of children (or 761,000 kids) were living below the poverty line in the first year of the pandemic (2019-20), according to the Poverty In Australia 2022 report by the Australian Council of Social Service and UNSW Sydney, using the latest available data from the ABS. The study also revealed people in poverty are falling further behind the rest of society, with their average weekly incomes dropping to $304 below the poverty line. The report found that temporary income supports introduced during COVID lockdowns in 2020 – the Coronavirus Supplement and Economic Support Payment - pulled 646,000 people, including 245,000 children, above the poverty line. Those new supports almost doubled…


The Wealth Paradox - wealth inequality and the housing crisis

A new report being launched today by the ACOSS/UNSW Sydney Poverty and Inequality Partnership, The wealth inequality pandemic: COVID and wealth inequality confirms that even though Australians are now, on average, the fourth richest people in the world, the distribution of our wealth remains hugely unequal. Our overall household wealth has grown as much in the last 3 years as it did in the previous fifteen, despite the COVID-19 pandemic and the recession in 2020, thanks mainly to the soaring cost of residential properties across the country during that same period. Soaring housing prices and their impact Over two-thirds (69%) of the overall increase in household wealth during the pandemic was in residential property, which rose in value by 22% through the year to December 2021 - the highest annual increase in 35 years. Rising house prices increase the divide between people who bought their homes when they were more affordable, and younger people and those on low and modest incomes who…


Housing affordability takes a hit - regionally and globally

A new report from the ACOSS/UNSW Sydney Poverty and Inequality Partnership shows that regional rents are now 18% higher than 2 years ago, at the start of the COVID 19 pandemic. Given that wages have only risen by 6%, the report concludes that regional rental housing affordability has significantly worsened during the public health crisis. Every Australian capital city and regional area has seen rent rises during this crisis period far in excess of wage increases or CPI-linked payment adjustment, with the exception of Sydney and Melbourne. State-level figures show that the situation for regional renters in Tasmania and Western Australia is particularly difficult because of even larger housing cost increases. The report, COVID 19: Housing market impacts and housing policy responses – an international review compared the experiences of Australia and seven other case study countries – Canada, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, Spain, the UK and the US. It found that all followed similar paths…


New ACOSS and UNSW Sydney Report shows how poverty and inequality were dramatically reduced in 2020, but have increased ever since

A new report from the ACOSS/UNSW Sydney Poverty and Inequality Partnership shows that during the first ‘Alpha’ wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Australia halved poverty and significantly reduced income inequality, thanks to a raft of Commonwealth Government crisis support payments introduced to help people survive the first lockdown. It also highlights that over the course of 2021, and throughout the spread of the ‘Delta’ variant, the Federal Government rapidly reversed this extraordinary progress by cutting financial aid and denying it to most people on the lowest incomes. The latest report from ACOSS and UNSW, Covid, inequality and poverty in 2020 & 2021: How poverty and inequality were reduced in the COVID recession and increased during the recovery examines how people at different income levels fared during those two phases of the COVID-19 Pandemic. During the first ‘Alpha’ wave of the pandemic, the Coronavirus Supplement and JobKeeper support payments played a crucial…


States' housing step-up no substitute for federal action

New research by the ACOSS/UNSW Poverty and Inequality Partnership shows renters on low and modest incomes are in the grip of a housing pincer, especially in regional Australia, as surging rents and the Commonwealth’s neglect of social and affordable housing creates acute stress. The report notes that while some States have recently increased their investment in social housing, they simply lack the financial firepower to make up for a decade of neglect. Four state Governments (Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia) have announced significant self-funded public housing construction programs as a component of post-pandemic stimulus investment, providing an investment of nearly $10 billion over the next few years. While these programs will add over 23,000 badly needed new homes to the stock of public and community housing over the next four years, more than 155,000 households are registered on social housing waiting lists across the country with more than 400,000 households…


Sole parents and unemployed face poverty as nation surges ahead

The income gap between people without paid work and sole parents, and the broader community is widening, according to a new study tracking income support over two decades. Australian Income Support Since 2000: Those Left Behind, will be launched today by the ACOSS/UNSW Sydney Poverty and Inequality Partnership to mark Anti-Poverty Week. The report notes median household incomes have grown 45% since June 2000 with Age and Disability Support Pensions almost keeping pace. “People receiving unemployment and single parent income support payments have been badly cast adrift,” said Dr Cassandra Goldie, CEO of ACOSS. “Those doing it toughest have been held further behind, making it that much harder to look after their health and families, as well as participate in the workforce. “Apart from the brief period when the Coronavirus supplement was paid, the performance of the income support system during this period of robust economic growth has left whole groups of people further and further…


Last year we backed you, this year you’re on your own: COVID’s scorched economic path revealed

New research by the ACOSS/UNSW Sydney Poverty and Inequality Partnership reveals the deepest, most enduring economic damage of the COVID pandemic has been felt in lower income areas, like outer north-west and south-east Melbourne, west and south-west Sydney, northern Adelaide, far North Queensland and regions between Brisbane and the NSW border. These areas are also impacted by cuts to economic supports in 2021. The Report shows that, between September 2019 and October 2020, people needing to rely on income support, who became eligible for the Coronavirus Supplement, increased by a dramatic 70%, peaking in the 2020 First Wave of the Pandemic. The Coronavirus Supplement was a vital additional payment supporting this dramatic rise in people hit by unemployment. The Report also shows that, following the Second Wave, by September 2021, the overall number of people on these income support base payments due to unemployment is still much higher than prePandemic, by a full 27%. Yet, the vast…


Report lays bare Australia’s stark health income gap as COVID widens it further

As major inequities in the vaccine roll out emerge, ACOSS and UNSW Sydney have today released a report showing the relationship between income and health. Australian Council of Social Service CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said: “The pandemic has exposed the stark inequities that impact our health across the country. People on the lowest incomes, and with insecure work and housing have been at greatest risk throughout the COVID crisis. Now, they are the same people who are at risk of missing out in the vaccine roll out. “Our report shows that health inequities are built into our society. Our report shows that people on low incomes have the highest levels of psychological distress, and we know that the pandemic is increasing that distress. “People on lower incomes are also at greater risk of chronic illnesses, which can also make them more at risk to the impacts of the pandemic.” Professor Evelyne de Leeuw, Director of Centre for Health Equity Training, Research & Evaluation, said:  "It's…


New report shows progress made on homelessness in response to COVID-19 slipping away – tens of thousands face huge rental debts

A new report shows the gains made on reducing homelessness during the pandemic last year are slipping away. It shows less than a third of those assisted with temporary hotel accommodation during the crisis were later transitioned into longer-term affordable housing, mainly due to a shortage of social housing available. At the same time, tens of thousands of people renting across the country now owe mounting rental debts, after having their payments deferred (but not reduced) while eviction moratoriums were in place. The report - COVID-19 Rental Housing and Homelessness Impacts: an initial analysis – is part of the UNSW Sydney and Australian Council of Social Service’s Poverty and Inequality research partnership. Australian Council of Social Service CEO, Dr Cassandra Goldie, said: “During the pandemic, governments did the right thing by increasing income support payments, putting in place eviction moratoriums and providing emergency housing to prevent a sudden surge in homelessness.…


New report shows who is most impacted by inequality in Australia

A new report by ACOSS and UNSW Sydney shows that, pre-COVID, single people on JobSeeker, even those with some paid work, and single parents on JobSeeker, have been struggling on the lowest rung of the household income scale. Over half are in the lowest 10% of incomes nationally. Half of people on age pensions are in the lowest 20% of incomes nationally, though widespread home ownership among this group provides a significant degree of protection from poverty. The 10% of older people who rent their homes are in a much more financially distressed position. The report – Inequality in Australia 2020: Part 2, Who is Affected and Why – sets a base-line of data against which to assess the impact that COVID-19 is having on inequality in Australia. It reveals where different groups fit in the income and wealth scales, and the direct causes of inequality from the latest data available, 2017-18. Professor Carla Treloar, Director of the Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW Sydney, said: “Even…