In the Delta wave of the pandemic (from July to September 2021 and ongoing), three States and Territories have endured extended lockdowns – New South Wales, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory. [i]
By September 2021, the overall numbers of people on the lowest payments is lower than October 2020 at the peak of the first wave, but still well above pre-pandemic levels (in September 2019). As at September 2019, the total number was 913,000 people. By September 2021, the number increased by 27%, to 1,661,000 people in all.
Most of the same areas by electorate that saw the sharpest increases in reliance on income support last year (24) are still among the 30 worst affected (Table 2). In the absence of a robust income support buffer, people living in these areas are more financially exposed as COVID restrictions continue.
The top 30 (top 20%) of electorates with the largest increases from September 2019 to September 2021 now include:
* West and south-west Sydney, (Blaxland, Watson, Werriwa, Fowler and Macarthur, now joined by Lindsay, Barton, Greenway and Reid in western Sydney), with increases from 3,000 to 7,000 per electorate;
* The same seats in outer north-west Melbourne (Calwell, Lalor, Gorton, and Macnamara), with increases ranging from 3,000 to 6,000 people;
* The same seats in south-east Melbourne (Holt and Bruce) with increases from 3,000 to 5,000 people;
* The same regions between Brisbane and the NSW border (Rankin, Forde, Moncrieff, and Fadden), with increases from 3,000 to 4,000 people; and in addition,
* Lingiari in central Australia (Northern Territory) with around 4,000;
* Paterson in the mid-north coast of New South Wales with around 3,000;
* Brisbane (inner city) with around 3,000.
The three largest States are still over-represented with 14 in New South Wales, ten in Victoria, and six in Queensland.
[i] Shorter lockdowns were imposed in Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia. In addition, border restrictions impact employment in industries such as tourism.