Notes on the data: Income support

Children in low income, welfare-dependent families, June 2021


Policy context:  Children living in families either solely or largely dependent on government for their income have the least access to financial and other resources, and are more likely to have lower achievements in education and poorer health outcomes than their more advantaged peers [1]. In particular, extreme stressful events, such as homelessness, victimisation or abuse, can have long-term effects on children’s outcomes [1].


  1. Jones E, Gutman L, Platt L. Family stressors and children's outcomes. (Report for UK Department for Education). London, UK: Childhood Wellbeing Research Centre; 2013.
  2. Smart D, Sanson A, Baxter J, Edwards B, Hayes A. Home-to-school transitions for financially disadvantaged children. Sydney: The Smith Family; 2008.
  3. Barnett M. Economic disadvantage in complex family systems: expansion of family stress models. Clin Child Fam Psych Rev. 2008;11(3):145-61.
  4. Hilferty F, Redmond G, Katz I. The implications of poverty on children's readiness to learn. Australas. J Early Childhood 2010;35(4):63-71.

Notes:  Children included are those under 16 years of age, with the household head not in the workforce, and living in families with incomes under $28,485 p.a. in receipt of the Family Tax Benefit (A) (whether receiving income support payments or not). The families these children are living in would all receive the Family Tax Benefit (A) at the maximum level.

The level of income used for these data was based on Poverty Lines: Australia, June Quarter 2021 which contains a weekly income for a single parent with two children, including housing costs. Poverty Lines: Australia is a quarterly newsletter that updates the Henderson Poverty Line as defined in the 1973 Commonwealth Commission of Inquiry into Poverty. Poverty lines are presented for a range of family sizes, in order to avoid the situation of poverty. The updated Poverty Lines takes account of changes in the average income level of all Australians, reflecting the idea that poverty is relative.

Data cells with less than 5 counts were suppressed (confidentialised).

Additional notes

The data show a number of areas as having proportions in excess of 100 per cent: these are clearly not accurate. The reason for this is not clear, although it may be the result of the address of the pension recipient data being a postcode which is not allocated to the correct small geographical area by the correspondence files available; it may also reflect inaccuracies in the denominator (the population of pensionable age), as population estimates at the small area level for age groups can be unreliable, in particular where the populations are small. It also indicates that it is possible that percentages of less than 100 per cent may also be overstated.


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


Numerator:  Children under 16 years of age in low income families receiving welfare payments from Centrelink: families included are those with incomes under $28,485 p.a. in receipt of the Family Tax Benefit (A) (whether receiving income support payments or not)


Denominator:  All children under 16 years of age


Detail of analysis:  Per cent


Source:  Compiled by PHIDU based on data from Centrelink, June 2021; and Australian Bureau of Statistics Estimated Resident Population, 30 June 2020.


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