Poverty Line

The Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic & Social Research identities the “poverty line” in this country each quarter.

The “poverty lines” are based on a benchmark income required to support a family of 2 adults and 2 children.

Update on Australians living below poverty lines

A key internationally accepted tool to measure disadvantage in rich countries is by calculating the proportion of the population living below a poverty line. Poverty lines are usually based on the disposable (after tax) income of households.

In Australian and international poverty research, the poverty line for a single adult is usually calculated as a proportion of the disposable income of a “middle income” (median) household. There are different poverty lines to take account of the number of adults and children in a household.

Australia Fair recently released results from research from the Social Policy Research Centre at the University of New South Wales on poverty in 2004. These results indicated that just under 2 million people, or 10% of Australians, lived below the most austere poverty line widely used in international poverty research – 50% of median household income. The research also indicated that the over- all rate of poverty rose substantially between 1994 and 2004, whether this poverty line or a higher one which is used in the UK, Ireland and the rest of Europe (60% of median household income) is adopted.

Since the data was published, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has released the figures from its latest Survey of Income and Housing for 2006. Based on this ABS data, the Social Policy Research Centre has updated its estimates of poverty to 2006.

This report outlines key findings of that research, and compares them with the Centre’s estimates for poverty based on the same ABS survey in 2004.

The new research finds that in 2006, 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.

We are pleased to be part of the Southern Emergency Relief Network, a group of 50+ agencies such as ourselves in the region that meets regularly to:

Advocate for our clients

  • Encourage information sharing between service providers
  • Identify community needs and issues to government policy makers
  • The trends in emergency relief are scary!

Our numbers growing each month, with no relief in sight!