Poverty and economic inequality

Our vision

All people should have the means and opportunities to participate socially and economically, and to live with dignity and thrive.

A robust, fair and supportive system of social protection is the precondition for a just and compassionate society, and the foundation for an inclusive and stable democracy.

Key to this is a robust social security safety net and quality services that are responsive to community need, and funded via equitable and sustainable taxation and expenditure settings.

The issues we face

Despite being one of the wealthiest nations in the world, Australia has deep and persistent poverty.

Even before COVID-19, economic inequality, poverty and economic insecurity were of profound concern:

  • 24 million people in Australia (13.6% of the population) were living below the poverty line.[1]
  • More than one in eight adults and one in six children (774,000 children under the age of 15) were living below the poverty line.[1]
  • One in three children in single parent households were living below the poverty line.[1]
  • People living in single-parent families, unemployed people, people with disability and First Peoples are particularly likely to experience income poverty, deprivation and social exclusion; children living in jobless households where no one has paid work are at heightened risk of entrenched poverty.

An increasing number of children and young people are caught up in the financial hardship affecting their families. Growing up in poverty is a key risk factor for living with long-term financial hardship as an adult, so actions that reduce the risk of poverty in families are crucial.

As the effects of the coronavirus pandemic continue to unfold and economic recession sets in, there is a risk economic inequality and poverty will escalate.

[1] Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS), (2020). Poverty in Australia 2020.  ACOSS: Sydney. http://povertyandinequality.acoss.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Poverty-in-Australia-2020_Part-1_Overview.pdf.

Anti-Poverty Week webinar – Tackling child poverty in the wake of COVID-19

Hosted by UnitingCare Australia