Notes on the data: Income support

Female sole parent pensioners, June 2020


Policy context:  Sole parent families who are on income support are likely to be very socioeconomically disadvantaged. Among different family types, sole parent families have the highest poverty rate at 32% compared with couple parent families at 12% [1]. Further from this, children in sole parent families are more than three times likely to live in poverty compared with 13% of children in couple parent families in 2015-2016 [1].

Financial stress is considerably higher among single parent families. In 2010-2015, 64.4% of single parent household experienced persistent financial stress; moreover the rate of welfare reliance is considerably higher than those in other family types [2]. These families continue to suffer high rates of relative income poverty, deprivation and financial stress related to low household income and net worth [3]. Their opportunities for employment or further education and training may be further diminished if they are also caring for a child who has a disability.


  1. Davidson, P., Saunders, P., Bradbury, B. and Wong, M. Poverty in Australia. Poverty and Inequality Partnership Report No.2. ACOSS/UNSW. Sydney: ACOSS; 2018.
  2. Wilkins, R. and Inga, L. The Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey: Selected Findings from Waves 1 to 16. Melbourne Institute: Applied Economic & Social Research, University of Melbourne; 2018
  3. Summerfield T, Young L, Harman J, Flatau P. Child support and Welfare to Work reforms: the economic consequences for single-parent families. Fam Matters. 2010;84:68-78.

Notes:  People eligible for a Parenting Payment (single) paid by Centrelink comprise female and male sole parents with at least one child under 16 years of age (who meet certain qualifications, or whose child attracts a child disability allowance). Only females receiving this payment have been mapped because females comprise the majority of sole parent pensioners (and to map females and males over the total population would distract from the figures for females receiving this payment).

Data cells with counts of less than five were suppressed (confidentialised). Therefore, the figures can be undercounted by up to 4 people if one of the cells at the SA2 level comprising a PHA or LGA is confidentialised. Data in the ‘Unknown’ data row in the Excel data workbooks are calculated from the difference between the sum of the PHA or LGA data to the State/Territory totals and include the sum of these suppressed cells.

Data for females receiving the Parenting Payment (single) may also not be published even if it is over 5 if it can reveal confidential data from total persons single parent payment data available from DSS at the SA2 or LGA levels).


Geography: Data available by Population Health Area, Local Government Area, Primary Health Network, Quintile and Remoteness Area


Numerator:  Females in receipt of a Parenting Payment (single) from Centrelink at June 2020


Denominator:  Females aged 15 to 54 years at June 2020


Detail of analysis:  Per cent


Source:  Compiled by PHIDU based on data from the Department of Social Services, June 2020; and PHIDU estimated population, 30 June 2020.


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