Australia is not as lucky as it might appear on the surface.
Australia is not as lucky as it might appear on the surface.

Australia’s haves and have nots

AS we prepare for Australia Day, a report is starkly reminding us of the economic divisions which will limit the partying by some citizens.

Not all of us enjoy a hefty slice of the national endowment we will celebrate, the independent report today shows.

They include the 20 per cent of citizens aged 15 and above existing on $299 or less a week, and children in single-parent families - 19 per cent of all children aged under 15.

And 18.3 per cent of all Australians (about 4.4 million) rely on income support.

Our most vulnerable groups have been identified by the Productivity Commission in its 2018 review of the effectiveness of government services, with the first part released today. It is largely based on 2016-17 data.

Geography is one factor. Some 18 million of the 24 million Australians live in the eastern mainland states, and the Productivity Commission warns that could distort some findings.

We are highly urbanised and the 71.1 per cent of the population in cities get better services than those living outside city limits.

Other factors include age and health. Some 10.5 per cent of the population receives the age pension; 3.2 per cent are on a disability support pension. A further 1.1 per cent get a single-parent payments.


Close to 13 million Australians aged 15 and over are employed with 68.4 per cent of them in full-time jobs. But 3.4 per cent of Australians receive some form of the dole.

The group most frequently identified are the 670,000 Aboriginal and Islander citizens, who are roughly three per cent of the population, with the total expected to grow to one million by 2026.

"At 30 June 2016, 10.4 per cent of Australia's population was aged 70 years or over, compared with just 1.9 per cent of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population as at 30 June 201," reads the report.

Some 30.9 per cent of the indigenous population aged 15 and above lived on $299 a week or less. It was worse for younger indigenous people aged 15 to 19 where the proportion on low incomes was 76.2 per cent. Those struggling to find and keep a home also figure prominently.

Federal and state governments last financial year spent $4.7 billion on social housing and specialist programs for the homeless. In addition the Commonwealth Rent Assistance - the largest government private rental assistance program - cost $4.4 billion in 2016-17.

Some 6.2 per cent of couple families with children under 15 years had neither parent employed. The figure hit 55.0 per cent for lone parent families with children under 15.

There are 9.4 million households --some with more than one family.

Twenty-four per cent of people aged 65 years or over lived alone, around three times higher than the proportion for people aged 15-64 years.