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…

New research highlights risk of COVID pandemic increasing inequality

New analysis of inequality in Australia pre-COVID-19 provides a baseline against which to measure the impacts of the pandemic on income and wealth inequality. It highlights the ameliorating effects of timely Government policy responses – including increased Jobseeker and Jobkeeper payments – but warns that the long-term effect of the pandemic on income and wealth inequality will depend on how these policies evolve. Using the latest available ABS data (2017-18), the ACOSS/UNSW Sydney Poverty and Inequality Partnership Report finds that, pre-COVID, the incomes of those in the highest 20% were 6 times higher than those in the lowest 20%, with that gap widening since 2015-16 (when the ratio was 1:5). An examination of wealth data shows that, for the first time, average household wealth exceeded $1 million in 2017-18. However, the distribution of wealth in Australia was deeply unequal, with the average wealth of the top 20% ($3,255,000) some 90 times that of the lowest 20% ($36,000). Those…

New report shows women with caring responsibilities at greater risk of poverty before COVID-19 and highlights risks of ‘snapback’

New analysis of poverty in Australia finds that, before COVID-19, households with children with a female main income earner were more than twice as likely to live in poverty as those in which the main income earner was male, highlighting the impact of caring roles on poverty in Australia. The report also finds that people who were unemployed were at greatest risk of poverty, with two-thirds of people in affected households living below the poverty line. The report’s findings confirm, once again, the inadequacy of pre-COVID payments for people who are unemployed. The findings lead the Poverty in Australia 2020: Part 2 – Who is affected? report, released today by the Australian Council of Social Service and UNSW Sydney. The report compares the impact of poverty on different people in the community, broken down by age, family type income source, and labour market and housing status. It includes estimates of poverty among people with disability and those from culturally and ethnically…

Release of new research on poverty in Australia

21 February 2020: Today the ACOSS/UNSW Poverty and Inequality Partnership released the first of our reports for 2020 - Poverty in Australia 2020: Part 1, Overview. The report paints a picture of poverty in Australia showing that over three million people, including three quarters of a million children, are living in poverty. Download the report at:

ACOSS and Cohealth release health inequality infographic

Everyone should have equal access to health care in Australia. But there is a huge difference in health outcomes depending on income. This is especially true for particular groups in the community, such as people living in precarious housing, or those dealing with the impacts of family violence. ACOSS and Cohealth have partnered to produce an infographic on how poverty and inequality make us sick:  Download it at

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. Read more at:


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