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Australian snapshot:

Australians are living and working longer, but the gap between rich and poor is growing.
By Motherpedia
Date: August 09 2013
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Australians are living longer, are better educated and extending their stay in the workforce, but some people continue to be disadvantaged, according to the latest welfare report card from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

Who we are

Australia's Welfare 2013 shows that around 70% of the population live in the major cities, 3% are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and 27% were born overseas.

“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,” said David Kalisch, CEO of the AIHW.

Mr Kalisch said that the ageing of the population was one of the key factors in Australia's changing demographic profile.

People aged 65 and over now comprise 14% of the population, or about 3.2 million people, compared with 8% in 1972. The proportion of those aged under 25 has fallen from 46% to 32% over the same period.

“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.

“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, which is 18.5% of the population.


The report shows that Australian governments spent an estimated $119 billion on welfare in 2010-11 at an average of $1,308 per resident. This is nearly 30% more than the $90.1 billion governments spent on health in the same year.

The report highlights the increasing gap in the community, with many enjoying a good standard of living but just as many facing social and economic difficulties.

  • One-fifth of households were on the lowest income of $314 per week, while one-fifth were on the highest income of $1,704 per week.
  • A government pension or allowance was the main source of income for one in 4 households, with more than half of those on the age pension and another third receiving disability or carer support.
  • More than half of one-parent families with children and two-thirds of people over 60 had experienced poverty for at least one year between 2001 and 2009. Recurrent poverty is more likely to occur amongst single elderly men or single elderly women, compared with other groups.
  • The proportion of jobless families dropped from 13% in 2005 to 11.6% in 2011.

Households and families

In 2011, 72% of Australia's 7.8 million households were family households (with or without children), 24% were lone-person households and the rest were group households.

  • 1 in 5 children lived in a one-parent family – a rate that has not changed for more than 10 years.
  • Houses and apartments are getting bigger. 30% of homes had 4 bedrooms or more in 2011 – twice as many as 1986.
  • House prices were more than 7 times the average household income.
  • The majority of Australian households were buying or owned their own home outright (5.2 million).
  • About 2.3 million households were renting either private or social housing dwellings, with this number rising over the last five years.
  • About 105,000 people were homeless.


Mr Kalisch said that while more people in their 60s were choosing to work rather than retire, many adults struggled to gain a foothold in employment, especially young adults and people with disability.

  • 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 3 times as likely as men to be employed part-time (46% and 16% respectively) and this is likely to be related to caring responsibilities.

Education and childcare

Australians are better educated than a decade ago.

  • 67% of people aged 25 to 64 held a non-school qualification in 2012 compared with 54% in 2002.
  • More than 8 in 10 students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 had achieved national minimum standards for literacy and numeracy.
  • Just over half (52%) of children aged 0 to 12 usually attended child care in 2011.

* * *

A copy of the report is available here.

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