Australia’s population has reached record high, but most people still live below the poverty line
Australia’s annual population has risen by 7.6 million in the past year, according to new figures, but the country’s poverty rate remains stubbornly high at just over 20%.
The latest figures released by the Bureau of Statistics (BSIS) show the population grew by 7 million people in 2016.
This is the highest annual growth rate in Australia since the start of the decade, according the ABS.
The Bureau of Statistical and Economic Research said it had found that while the proportion of people in poverty had decreased, the proportion who were living below the national poverty line had increased.
“The increase in the proportion living in poverty over the past decade has largely been driven by increases in the number of Australians living below half the national minimum wage,” the BSEE reported.
“People in poverty today are more likely to be unemployed, to have been in care or have a disability, and are more exposed to a range of financial and health issues, such as alcohol and drug use and mental health problems.”
In 2016, the ABS found the proportion that lived in poverty increased from 19.1 per cent to 20.3 per cent of the population.
This included the highest rate in history, at 30.9 per cent.
The highest rate of poverty in the world was found in India, with a poverty rate of 33.9%.
The lowest was in the UK at 9.3%.
In 2015, there were 3.7 million Australians living in extreme poverty, or living on less than $1.25 a day.
That was a rate of 1.3 percentage points above the OECD average of 1 percentage point.
In the year to April, more than 3.2 million Australians were living in low-income households, which are defined as households that earn less than 50 per cent or $12,600 a year.
These figures come as Australia faces a severe housing shortage, with the Australian Bureau of Housing and Urban Research reporting a shortfall of 2.9 million homes, or 1.4 per cent, over the next two years.
In March, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced a national housing strategy, with some of the government’s key policy initiatives to be rolled out over the coming year.
The strategy would provide more affordable housing, but would also provide more flexibility for businesses to hire workers and help people find employment, according government data.
It also promised to expand the supply of affordable housing to people living in regional and remote areas.
Australia’s National Housing Strategy is set to be released next week.