Media release: Report highlights that women carers disproportionately impacted by poverty

28 May 2020

New pre-COVID-19 analysis of poverty in Australia has shown that households where women are the main income earners are twice as likely to live in poverty as those where men are the main income earners (19% and 10% of households in Australia respectively). The gap is even higher in households with children (at 23% and 10%).


The report published by the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) and the University of New South Wales (UNSW) also found that two-thirds of people who were unemployed lived below the poverty line.


The report, Poverty in Australia 2020: Part 2 – Who is affected? examines levels of poverty affecting different sections of our community including by age, family type, housing status and income source. It also estimates poverty among people with disability and culturally and linguistically diverse communities.


The report’s findings include:


    • Children are more likely to live in poverty (18%) when compared with the whole population (14%)


    • People relying on income support payments rather than a wage are 5 times more likely to live in poverty


    • Over one-third of sole parent families live in poverty


    • Nearly 40% of people aged 65+ who are renting live in poverty


    • People who rent their home are almost twice as likely to live in poverty (19%) as those who own their home (9%)


    • 66% of households where the main income earner is unemployed live in poverty


    • 44% of children in sole parent families live in poverty


    • 38% of people in poverty are in wage-earning households.



ACTCOSS CEO, Dr Emma Campbell, said: “In the ACT, high averages hide the poverty and disadvantage experienced by many Canberrans.


“High rents, energy costs and broader cost of living pressures mean that individuals and families on low income face significant disadvantage.”


These findings highlight the gendered-impact of poverty and echo recent ACT focused reports by the Women’s Centre for Health Matters (WCHM) and YWCA Canberra. WCHM’s analysis of hidden disadvantage among women in the ACT found that 80% of sole parents in the ACT are women, that women are more likely to work in low paid industries and have higher levels of unemployment and underemployment than men. YWCA Canberra’s Our Lives: Women in the ACT report found that nearly 20% of working women turned down paid work in the last twelve months to perform unpaid care for others.


Dr Campbell continued: “As we look to recover from COVID-19, our leaders have an opportunity to implement long-term solutions to poverty and inequality through measures including the permanent lifting of social security payments above the poverty line, setting a serious goal for full employment, increasing Rent Assistance and building more social housing.”


Download the report Poverty in Australia 2020: Part 2 – Who is affected? (pdf).


Read the ACOSS and UNSW media release.


ACTCOSS advocates for social justice in the ACT and represents not-for-profit community organisations.


For more information or comment, please contact:

Dr Emma Campbell, CEO, ACTCOSS, on 0424 910 617.


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