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 cash income received from wages and salaries, investments, income support from government, and the like. Other resources can also contribute to the level of consumption of goods and services, including personal resources such as savings, and other sources of wealth; 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 help the economically disadvantaged 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, families with children, and Indigenous Australians. Others provide income support for other special groups, such as war veterans, war widows and their families, and students. In addition to providing income security, government programs help those with low incomes to meet specific needs. Assistance is also provided for a range of goods and services through pensioner concession and health cards. Other types of programs 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 and on the levels of wealth. Information is provided on the main income support programs of the Australian Government, describing the eligibility requirements, numbers of beneficiaries and government expenditure on these programs. These topics are covered in the sections: Income and community support programs (contributed by the Australian Government Department of Family and Community Services); Aged care programs (contributed by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing); and Services provided to veterans and their families (contributed by the Australian Government Department of Veterans' Affairs).