More Australians Living Below the Poverty Line
5 November 2007 at 12:09 pm
New figures released by the Australian Council Of Social Service, ACOSS show that one in ten Australians live below the poverty line – an increase from 9.8% to 11.1% of the population between 2003-04 and 2005-06.
The ACOSS report called Australia Fair held extensive consultations in every State and Territory in 2006 to identify what the public thinks are the 10 essentials to ensure a fair go for all Australians.
The report found that an estimated 2,210,000 people or 11.1% of Australians, including 412,000 children, lived below the most austere poverty line widely used in international research. This poverty line, which is used by the OECD, is set at 50% of the median (middle) disposable income for all Australian households, in the case of a single adult. In 2006 this poverty line was $281 per week.
ACOSS says poverty lines provide one way to indicate the extent of low income and disadvantage. Other indicators of hardship commonly used include: access to services such as dental care when needed; the ability to raise $500 in an emergency; the ability to take a holiday once a year and the ability to afford to send your children on school excursions.
The report also shows that people in poverty are not all the same. They come from diverse backgrounds and there are many different reasons for poverty. Some come from disadvantaged backgrounds, some have long term illnesses or disabilities, others were once well off but a family crisis or illness changed their lives for the worse. One thing that unites the people profiles in the report is that they aspire to a ‘normal’ life where income is secure, they are respected and have a place in society.
A less austere but still low poverty line, that is used to define poverty in Britain,
Ireland and the European Union, is 60% of median income. In the case of a single adult, this poverty line in Australia was $337 per week in 2006.
When this poverty line was used in the same research, 3,857,000 people, including
754,000 children were found to be living in poverty in 2006. This represented 19.4% of all Australians. A major reason for the large increase in the number of people living below this income (compared with the lower poverty line) is the level of social security payments.
For example, at that time the single rate of Age Pension was $244 per week. A single pensioner would need $37 per week in private income to get over the 50% of median poverty line but they would need $93 per week before their income exceeded the 60% of median poverty line.
At risk group % living below poverty line:
– Unemployed households 44.7%
– Single adults over 65 years 46.9%
– Households whose main income is social security 40.7%
– Lone parent families 16.4%
– Single adults (without children) of workforce age 24.8%
– All people 11.1%
To download the full report go to: http://www.australiafair.org.au/public/Publications.aspx?ArticleID=3517