The economic wellbeing or standard of living of individuals is largely dependent on the economic and social resources available to provide for their consumption of goods and services and for participation in society. Such resources may be in the form of income received from wages and salaries, investments, income support from government, and the like. However, income does not always accurately indicate command over goods and services, particularly when income is variable or expenditure can be financed through running down assets or acquiring debts. Other resources can also contribute to the level of consumption of goods and services, including the resources of government and welfare organisations which provide services such as aged care, respite care and child care, and the resources of family and friends who provide assistance when needed.
Government programs aim to support Australians to achieve social and economic outcomes and to participate in society. Such programs provide income support for the retired, people with disabilities, carers, unemployed people, students, and families with children. Others provide income support for other special groups, such as war veterans, and war widows and their families. In addition to providing income security and supporting families with children, government programs help people to meet specific needs. For example, assistance is also provided for a range of goods and services through pensioner concession and health cards, and other types of programs such as those which aim to provide assistance with employment, and advocacy for people with disabilities.
This chapter provides information on the levels and sources of income of Australia's population, on the levels and patterns of expenditure on goods and services, and on the levels of wealth. Information is also provided on the major income and community support programs of the Australian Government, describing the eligibility requirements, number of beneficiaries and government expenditure on these programs.
This chapter contains the article Indigenous Disadvantage and Selected Measures of Wellbeing.