A new report from the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) and the University of New South Wales — using the latest available ABS data from 2017-18 — shows how far behind those on the lowest incomes are from the nation’s richest households, ABC News reports.
The report found the incomes of those in the top 20 per cent were six times higher than those in the bottom 20 per cent.
That is worse than 2015-16, when the ratio was five times.
ACOSS chief executive Cassandra Goldie said the findings of the report should shock people.
“It is extraordinary that while overall we’re a very wealthy country here in Australia, we’ve had so many children struggling to be fed properly,” she said.
“We’ve had single parents who have been hiding from their children [that] they’re not eating to ensure their children do get fed.
“We’ve had people sitting with the lights off and not heating their houses, not able to afford the basics because their levels of income, and so little wealth, has meant that they are deeply distressed about their financial security.”
The report finds the distribution of wealth in Australia is even more unequal.
The Australia Talks survey reveals some surprising, and at times contradictory, attitudes to poverty and wealth inequality across the nation.
The average wealth of the top 20 per cent sits at roughly $3.2 million — 90 times that of the lowest 20 per cent, who sit on roughly $36,000 in assets and savings.
The report’s lead researcher, UNSW professor Bruce Bradbury, said the country’s richest households were able to grow their wealth, pulling them further away from the poorest households every year.