10% of Australia in poverty: Pensioner’s pain

The agony of escalating housing prices in Australia is being called out as something that needs to be addressed this morning.

The agony of escalating housing prices in Australia is being called out as something that needs to be addressed this morning.  And more than ever, we’re raising the plight of pensioners in the discussion.  We’ve known for much of the last decade that 2.5 million people in Australia are living in poverty, and this report today is showing the shameful state of support for those in need.

The concerns have been raised by the release of the Salvation Army’s annual Economic and Social Impact Survey which shows that an enormous number of those in need are battling with housing stress and that some people in our country are living on just $15 per day of income after the costs of rent and housing are subtracted.
We have to ask today… who is going to do something about it?  

“The results of this extensive survey are utterly shameful,” he said. “It shows the real level of struggle taking place in our ‘lucky country’.”

The survey found respondents on any type of welfare benefit had an average of $16.96 a day to live on once they paid for accommodation. People on the Newstart Allowance were left with $15.29 a day after housing costs.

Recent data has shown that there is over 500,000 Australians on the Newstart allowance, and 2.3 million Australians receiving the Pension, putting them on income levels that fluctuate near to or below the World Health Organisation’s “breadline” or the level where people are considered to be living in poverty.

Bruce Harmer from the Salvos, who launch their Red Shield Appeal this weekend said it is time something was done about the bleak picture being painted in this report for 2.5 million Australians or the 10% of our population living in poverty.

More than two-thirds of respondents were in extreme housing stress, spending 62 per cent of their total income on accommodation.

The Salvos survey sampled more than 1600 of the organisation’s clients.  But are the reported results enough to drive action on poverty and welfare in the election?

Almost all of the respondents (91%) reported suffering housing stress, with their rent or mortgage payments making up between 30 and 50% of income.   68% of respondents report extreme housing stress where accommodation costs are more than 60% of income.

The media focused its attention on the plight of families this morning, reporting on the number of families with young children doing it tough.  According to the report, 58 percent of respondents make do without five or more basic items and one in five respondents finding they are unable to afford medical treatment or medicines prescribed for their child and 42% cannot afford a yearly dental check-up.

More than 60% cannot afford an internet connection, so important in this day and age to ensure that people are not excluded on any level.

Whilst this report focussed on the families in need… we have to ask who is speaking for the millions of Australian Pensioners living in relative poverty, and fluctuating below the breadline?  The minimum pension level of $867 per fortnight including supplements puts the average pensioner at less than 433.50 per week.

The Salvos’ report makes a number of recommendations which it is impossible not to support, including the development of a national plan to address persistent poverty and inequality in Australia.

The Salvation Army’s 2016 Red Shield Appeal is this weekend, May 28 and 29.

Are you affected by this terrible level of poverty?

  1. Maybe our new slogan for Australia should be, Welcome to Australia where if you are rich only you can afford healthcare.. the government needs a serious wake up and brought to reality. im sick and tired of them saying that the everyday Australian is Freeloading on welfare when they have their fat salaries and still mooch off the tax payers. im sick an tired of having to make the decision every fortnight of what is more important, having food or medication which i need both to survive.

    • As long as we allow it they will continue to get their big fat payouts when they retire from their jobs

  2. Maureen Grantham  

    Yes, I am living in poverty and I have my daughter, who is on Newstart, living with me as she cannot afford to live on her own. I am 76 years old and my daughter is 52, we are looking at a bleak future.

  3. Coral Abrim  

    If your on a benefit you can claim Rent Assistance ….so I think your well out with your figures on much people are left to live on after paying rent!

    • Lucy Dix  

      I know of one on Newstart with a young teenager who pays over $200 for rent to housing,she has to get food parcels from the church

      • Keith Schadel  

        That is the normal thing nowadays unfortunately, old age pensioners built the country as did their ancestors, now we are the new convicts convicted of stealing our heritage

    • Alexander  

      I get rent assistance, it’s $30 a week,after rent,putting away for bills I’m left with next to nothing to live on.I use to enjoy a beer ,golf and foxtel when I was working that is all gone.Who ever raises the pension gets my vote ,end of.

    • Coral, unless you are in that situation, don’t make silly comments. I am pretty sure they would have done their homework and got their figures correct. Rent assistance is about $30 per week – rent would be anywhere from $200 upwards.

    • Sandy  

      Rent assistance is not very much and rents are very high

    • SA Housing Trust semi-detached, two aged pensioners, weekly rent $206. What makes people think we get big rent reductions. If the pension goes up so does the rent. Give with one hand, take away with the other.

    • Get real rent assistance is only a pittance $78 per fourtnight where can you get rent for that.

  4. Keith Schadel  

    Maybe my circumstances are unusual, but at age 74, my wife and l try and live on 12.00 dollars per day.my wife is a provisional Australian resident with us foing the right thing and paying close to $8000.00 in spouse visa costs, she returned to Australia with me for an annual MRI following an unprovoked assault some four years ago, we have medical certification from Australia that she is my 24/7 carer due to complications from the assault, now exacerbated by 2 major hip surgeries since our return. This Government and it’s “wonderful ” Centrelink, have decided, that although without her care l would be in aged care, she can live on my pension with me, with no carer support and now unless she takes out private health…no Medicare… we have been subjected to 2 harassment investigations by Centrelink looking for some secret hoard of money, all l ask is if you find it, may we have just a little, then maybe we can at least buy private health. I was always a proud Australian, now am just another second class Australian Pensioner.

    • You’re obviously one of hockey’s “leaners” Keith. I am so sorry for your situation. This disgraceful government needs to be booted out, although I don’t hear the alternatives shouting about helping older Australians.

      • Rachel Rush  

        Who looked after them last time???

  5. carol quinlan  


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *