Income support policy and poverty trends in 21st century Australia

Stream: Poverty
Date: Monday, 9 September 2019
Time: 11.30 am – 12.30 pm


This presentation reviews the impact of recent labour market and social policy changes on poverty, with a particular focus on ‘after-housing’ poverty trends. Male employment grew up to 2008, but then fell, while female employment has continued to grow. Real housing costs increased, especially at the bottom of the income distribution. After 2007–08, overall income poverty fell, but poverty after taking account of housing costs was stable. This reflects a combination of pension increases for the elderly, and stable or decreasing income support payments for the unemployed and lone parents with older children.

One justification for the decrease in payments for lone parents was to encourage greater employment. While lone parent employment rates did indeed increase, this was part of a broader trend increase in women's employment, with women not affected by the policy change also more likely to be employed. Among lone parents reliant upon income support payments, poverty increased substantially.


Bruce Bradbury (Presenter), Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW Sydney
Bruce Bradbury is an economist at the Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW. He undertakes research on poverty, inequality and living standards, as well as undertaking policy evaluations. For more information (and the presentation slides), see