Disadvantage Continues Despite Some Improvements- Report
9 August 2013 at 5:22 pm
Some Australians continue to live in disadvantaged circumstances despite the fact Australian’s are better educated and living longer, according to the latest report card on health and wellbeing.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s biennial report: Australia's welfare was released on Friday and found an estimated $119 billion was spent on welfare in 2010-11-$90 billion in cash payments and $29.4 billion for welfare services.
According to the report, relatively high levels of poverty in Australia remained for particular individuals or groups including the elderly, Indigenous Australians and youth.
Elderly single males and elderly single females were more likely to experience poverty for five or more years over a nine-year period than couples with children and one-parent families with children, the report found.
Outside the major cities, death and disability rates were higher, while incomes and labour force participation were lower, according to the report.
The report found home ownership among Indigenous households was rising and overcrowding was falling while education and labour force participation rates are also improving.
In the areas of children in care, foster care and adoption, the report found adoption rates have fallen to their lowest level ever with just 333 adoptions in 2011–12 compared with about 9,800 in 1972.
The number of children in confirmed abuse and neglect cases increased by 18% between 2007–08 and 2011–12 while the number of children living in out-of-home care is also rising, with a 27% increase between 2008 and 2012.
According to the report, the community services workforce grew by 24% between 2006 and 2011.
AIHW Director and CEO David Kalisch said the report highlighted the fact that while the population continued to grow and many Australians enjoyed a good standard of living, some groups faced social and economic difficulties.
“Where we live, our family structure and our levels of education all affect the quality of our lives and how long we can expect to live,” he said.
Kalisch said the ageing population was one of the key factors in Australia's changing demographic profile.
“Older Australians can expect to live longer than ever before, are enjoying more years of life without disability, and are increasingly remaining in the workforce,” Kalisch said.
“But while overall there is a large and growing group of older people who are generally well, living independently and actively participating in society, the number of older, and younger, Australians who are unable to care for themselves at home, or who require support to do so, is also growing.
“An estimated 4 million Australians of all ages have some form of disability-18.5% of the population-which includes 1.3 million people who need help with core activities.”
Kalisch said informal carers, such as family members and friends, played a vital role in the lives of people who sometimes or always needed help to do tasks because of disability, long-term health conditions or frailty due to ageing.
The proportion of jobless families dropped from 13% in 2005 to 11.6% in 2011-but the 2011 proportion was higher than the low of 10.2% immediately before the global financial crisis of 2008.
In 2012, 7% of 15-19 year olds, and 12% of 20-24 year olds were not in employment, education or training, which was similar to levels in 2003.
Almost 1 in 3 (30%) employed people worked part-time in 2012, compared with 17% in 1982. Women were almost three times as likely as men to be employed part-time (46% and 16% respectively) which is likely to be related to caring responsibilities.
Kalisch said the report confirmed several areas of disadvantage for Indigenous Australians, although there had been “some improvements”.
“Indigenous Australians have a shorter life expectancy than other Australians, are over-represented in the prison and youth justice systems, and Indigenous children are 10 times as likely as non-Indigenous children to be in out-of-home care,” he said.
“And although death rates for Indigenous adults have fallen, among those aged 25-54, they were four to five times as high as for non-Indigenous people between 2007 and 2011.”
In 2009, 13% of the Australian population was classified as being in relative income poverty and in 2009-10, Government pensions and allowances were the main source of income for one in four households.
According to the report, of the 23 million people living in Australia, 70% are in major cities, 3% are Indigenous and 27% were born overseas.