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Open AccessArticle

Social Assistance Payments and Food Insecurity in Australia: Evidence from the Household Expenditure Survey

1
Demography and Ageing Unit, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne 3010, Australia
2
College of Medicine and Public Health, Flinders University, Adelaide 5000, Australia
3
Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Public Health, Curtin University, Perth 6102, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(3), 455; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16030455
Received: 7 January 2019 / Revised: 30 January 2019 / Accepted: 30 January 2019 / Published: 4 February 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Addressing Food and Nutrition Security in Developed Countries)
It is widely understood that households with low economic resources and poor labour
market attachment are at considerable risk of food insecurity in Australia. However, little is known
about variations in food insecurity by receipt of specific classes of social assistance payments that
are made through the social security system. Using newly released data from the 2016 Household
Expenditure Survey, this paper reports on variations in food insecurity prevalence across a range of
payment types. We further investigated measures of financial wellbeing reported by food-insecure
households in receipt of social assistance payments. Results showed that individuals in receipt
of Newstart allowance (11%), Austudy/Abstudy (14%), the Disability Support Pension (12%),
the Carer Payment (11%) and the Parenting Payment (9%) were at significantly higher risk of food
insecurity compared to those in receipt of the Age Pension (<1%) or no payment at all (1.3%). Results
further indicated that food-insecure households in receipt of social assistance payments endured
significant financial stress, with a large proportion co-currently experiencing “fuel” or “energy”
poverty. Our results support calls by a range of Australian non-government organisations, politicians,
and academics for a comprehensive review of the Australian social security system

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Keywords: food insecurity; access to food; social assistance payments; social security; Newstart allowance food insecurity; access to food; social assistance payments; social security; Newstart allowance
MDPI and ACS Style

Temple, J.B.; Booth, S.; Pollard, C.M. Social Assistance Payments and Food Insecurity in Australia: Evidence from the Household Expenditure Survey. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, 455.

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