Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Older Australians left behind – OECD

New research reveals that older Australians became poorer in the ten years to 2005, compared with their counterparts in other developed countries.

The OECD report, Growing Unequal? shows that over 65s in Australia had the fourth highest relative income poverty rate, with an increase of 4.6 percentage points since the 1990s.

For single Australians over the age of 65 the income poverty rate was 50 per cent, the third highest in the OECD.

By contrast, poverty rates for seniors declined significantly in most other OECD nations over the same period.

Australia generally, with the exception of seniors, recorded an overall improvement in the level of income inequality with a sharp fall in the level of absolute poverty.

The child poverty rate was equal to the average of OECD countries and declined over the decade.

This OECD report backs up what we already know; that over the ten years to the mid-2000s older Australians have been going backwards.

Those finding it hardest to make ends meet were single people over the age of 65.

That’s why the Government’s is delivering a $4.8 billion down payment to give immediate financial relief to four million age pensioners, veterans, carers and people with disability in the lead up to long term reform of the pension system.

Lump sum payments of $1400 for singles and $2,100 for couples will be made to four million pensioners, including those the OECD identifies as doing it tough – single age pensioners.

These payments recognise the additional costs single pensioners face relative to couples.

The payments are intended to give pensioners a hand over the next nine months between now and when long-term reforms are introduced from the start of the next financial year