Australia’s welfare 2017 is the 13th biennial welfare report of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. This comprehensive report provides an authoritative overview of the wellbeing of Australians, examining a wide range of relevant topics.
SUMMARY – Extract
Welfare in Australia
- The Australian Government and state and territory governments spent an estimated $157 billion on welfare in 2015–16 (cash payments, welfare services, and unemployment benefits), up from $117 billion in 2006–07. This is an average growth rate (in real terms) of 3.4% per annum.
- Per person expenditure on welfare rose an average of 1.7% a year over the 10-year period in real terms (from $5,663 to $6,566 per Australian resident).
- Welfare spending now accounts for a larger proportion of gross domestic product than before: 9.5% in 2015–16 compared with 8.6% in 2006–07.
- In 2015, the welfare workforce represented 4.1% of the total workforce in Australia, an estimated 478,000 workers. The number of workers has increased by 84% since 2005.
- About 4.4% (1 in 23) of Australians are estimated to experience deep and persistent disadvantage, as measured by social exclusion. However, this masks much higher rates among some population groups—for example, 24% of people living in public housing (more than 5 times the national average), 15% of people dependent on income support (more than 3 times), and 11% of Indigenous Australians (more than twice) live with deep and persistent disadvantage.
- Children under 15 in single-parent families were more than 3 times as likely to be in relative income poverty as those in two-parent families (41% compared with 13%) in 2013–14.
- Young people aged 10–17 under youth justice supervision during 2014–15 were 15 times as likely as the general population to be involved with the child protection system in the same year.
- One in 6 Australian women have experienced physical or sexual violence from a current or former cohabiting partner since the age of 15. This compares with 1 in 19 men.
Education and employment
- In 2015, 4 in 5 children (78%) starting school were considered to be ‘on track’ developmentally, slightly higher than in 2009 (76%).
- Results for national literacy and numeracy testing in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 have largely plateaued for students since 2008, and in the Programme for International Student Assessment test, Australia’s 2015 results were significantly lower than those for 2009.
- There were 168,800 people commencing apprenticeships and traineeships in 2016—the lowest number since 1998.
- The proportion of Indigenous people aged 20–24 who had attained Year 12 or an equivalent level of education rose significantly from 45% in 2008 to 62% in 2014–15. Progress is on track to halve the gap in Year 12 attainment between Indigenous and non-Indigenous young people by 2020.
- Many more jobs today are part time: 31% of all jobs in 2016 involved part-time hours compared with 10% in 1966.
Ageing, disability and informal care
- Australia’s population profile is changing. In 2017, an estimated 3.8 million Australians (15% of the population) are aged 65 and over, compared with 2.2 million (13%) in 2007.
- About 4.3 million Australians (18%) have a disability, and about 1.4 million people (5.8%) have a severe or profound core activity limitation. While the overall number of people with disability has increased from 4 million in 2003, the proportion of the population with disability has decreased over time (from 20% in 2003 to 18% in 2015).
- Dementia is a substantial challenge to Australia. Estimates suggest that in 2017, around 365,000 Australians have dementia. This number is projected to more than double to 900,000 people by 2050.
- In 2015, Australia had 2.7 million informal carers, of whom 856,100 were primary carers. One-third of primary carers spent 40 hours or more per week in their caring role, and one-third had spent 10 or more years in this role.
Housing and homelessness
- Between 1994–95 and 2013–14, the proportion of Australians who owned their home outright fell from 42% to 31%, and more home owners financed their purchase with a mortgage (rising from 30% to 36%). The 2016 Census confirmed these trends (see Box A).
- A smaller proportion of people aged 25–34 own a home today than 25 years ago—39% in 2013–14, compared with 60% in 1988–89.
- In 2015–16, 38% (106,000) of all clients seeking assistance from specialist homelessness services had experienced family and domestic violence. Of these clients, 92% were women and children, including 31,000 children under 15.
- Compared with other households, Indigenous households are less than half as likely to own their own home, more than twice as likely to rent, more than 7 times as likely to live in social housing, and more than 3 times as likely to live in overcrowded dwellings.
SOURCE: Australian Institute of Health & Welfare. “Australia’s Welfare 2017.”AIHW,
Produced by the librarians at the Brotherhood of St Laurence in Melbourne, Australia