Low-income support

Low-income support

Income Support, Poverty and Debt - Why Australia needs a proper safety net.

St Vincent de Paul Society Income Support, Poverty and Debt Summary Paper

A photo of a woman in smart work clothes handing food to a man sitting on the street in a sleeping bag. wearing a beanie. His cardboard sign says jobless.

The dignity of every Australian means honouring their rights and empowering them to reach their life potential, whatever their background, circumstances or beliefs.   

Australia’s economic growth for almost 30 years has improved the living standards for the average household. Yet over 3.3 million people, including 761,000 children, have been left behind and are living in persistent poverty. Last year, 2 million households (21%) did not have enough to eat. 

Households relying on income support are five times more likely to experience poverty and struggle to make ends meet. Young people, single parents, Australia’s First Nations People, the long-term unemployed and those living with disability or ill-health are particularly vulnerable.  

What we do 

We are committed to alleviating suffering and promoting human dignity and personal integrity. We provide over $50 million per year in emergency relief to cover the essentials in life. We also provide support, companionship and connection at the individual and community level to help people build their social support networks. Requests for assistance are increasing month on month, with many people asking for help for the first time. Most of those we assist are on JobSeeker, Parenting Payment, the Disability Support Pension or Youth Allowance.  


We are strong advocates for improvements to the income support system. Around 830,000 people on JobSeeker are living $150 below the poverty line each fortnight. Many live with disability and ill health.  

We call for: 

  • Poverty to be defined and monitored, with data regularly published.  
  • Child poverty to be halved by 2030.
  • An increase to the base rate of working age payments to lift recipients out of poverty.
  • Income support payments to be indexed biannually in line with wage growth or CPI, whichever is greater.
  • An increase to the earnings threshold of income support payments by $150 a fortnight.
  • Regulation to protect vulnerable and disadvantaged people from predatory financial loans and credit card companies. 
  • A broader, empathetic and less prescriptive assessment process for the Disability Support Payment.
  • A fairer and more equitable taxation system that helps to lift people out of poverty.
A photo of a lady wearing sunglasses on her head, outside with a small child who is looking towards the camera. The child is holding a toy truck.

A fairer tax and welfare system

Learn more

Our impact

We are committed to actively and passionately speaking out on behalf of the people we serve

Want to help?

Find out how you can make a difference

Share this page