1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2012  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/05/2012   
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Income and Welfare


The economic wellbeing or material standard of living of individuals is reflected in their access to economic resources to support their consumption of goods and services, such as food, clothing, housing, transport, medical care, leisure activities and so on. Such economic resources may be in the form of income received from wages and salaries, own businesses, investments and income support from government. 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 that provide services such as aged care, respite care and child care, and the resources of family and friends who may 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, war veterans, students, and families with children. Other programs provide compensation payments for special groups, such as war veterans, and war widow(er)s and their families. In addition to providing income security, government programs help people to meet specific needs. For example, assistance is provided for a range of goods and services through pensioner concession and health care cards, and other types of programs such as those that aim to provide assistance with employment, and advocacy for people with disabilities.

This chapter provides information from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) on the levels and sources of income of Australia's population, on their expenditure on goods and services, and on household wealth.

A special article is included in the chapter, The 2010–11 summer of natural disasters.

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.

Related information can be found in chapters 7 POPULATION, 8 LABOUR, 10 HOUSING and 11 HEALTH.


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Statistics contained in the Year Book are the most recent available at the time of preparation. In many cases, the ABS website and the websites of other organisations provide access to more recent data. Each Year Book table or graph and the bibliography at the end of each chapter provides hyperlinks to the most up to date data release where available.