Fewer Australians get government payments than they did in the late 1990s, but more are struggling to afford somewhere to live.
A new report has also found while total employment and women’s employment are at record levels, nine per cent of workers want more hours and can’t get them.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s 2019 report will be released on Wednesday showing record employment and an increase in education are improving Australia’s wellbeing.
But housing affordability is a significant problem and wealth inequality is higher than it was in the 1980s.
The data shows a notable fall in the number of people aged 18 to 64 receiving income support — down from 2.6 million in 1999 to 2.3 million in 2018.
That’s despite Australia’s population increasing by more than six million people in that time.
But the report says finding affordable housing is a challenge with more people spending a higher proportion of their incomes on housing than in the past and fewer younger people owning their own homes.
“More than one million low-income households were in housing stress in 2017/18, where they spent more than 30 per cent of their income on rent or mortgage repayments,” AIHW spokesman Dinesh Indraharan said.
Social Services Minister Anne Ruston said welfare dependency for working-age Australians had reached its lowest level in 30 years.
“Housing stress is one area that government is determined to address,” she said.
Senator Ruston said the First Home Super Saver Scheme was in place to help people into the housing market, and First Home Loan Deposit Scheme would start next year.
Most crime rates have fallen in recent years but Australia ranked in the bottom third of countries for people feeling safe walking alone at night.
“Survey data shows rates of partner and sexual violence have remained relatively stable since 2005, while rates of total violence have fallen,” Mr. Indraharan said.
“However, the number and rate of sexual assault victims recorded by police has risen each year since 2011.”
AUSTRALIA’S WELFARE SYSTEM
* Australian governments spent nearly $161 billion on welfare services and support in 2017-18
* That included $102 billion on cash payments to specific populations, $48 billion on welfare services and $10 billion on unemployment benefits
* Per person spending on welfare increased an average of 1.3 per cent a year – from $5,287 per person in 2001/02 to $6,482 in 2017/18
* 803,900 people were in social housing
* 288,800 people were supported by Specialist Homeless Services
* 280,000 people used specialist disability support services under the National Disability Agreement.
SOURCE: AIHW 2019 report