Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2019. Australia’s welfare 2019: data insights. Cat. no. AUS 226. Canberra: AIHW. doi 10.25816/5d5e14e6778df
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2019). Australia’s welfare 2019: data insights. Canberra: AIHW.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Australia’s welfare 2019: data insights. AIHW, 2019.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Australia’s welfare 2019: data insights. Canberra: AIHW; 2019.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2019, Australia’s welfare 2019: data insights, AIHW, Canberra.
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Australia’s welfare 2019: data insights presents an overview of the welfare data landscape and explores selected welfare topics—including intergenerational disadvantage, income support, future of work, disability services, elder abuse and child wellbeing—in 8 original articles.
Australia’s welfare 2019 is the 14th biennial welfare report of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. This edition introduces a new format and expanded product suite:
2.3 million people aged 18–64 received income support in 2018, down from 2.6 million in 1999
The interplay of ideas, national policies and data have shaped disability services and statistics in Australia
In 2016 income support receipt among Indigenous Australians aged 15–64 was 56% in Remote and very remote areas
Elder abuse affects between 2% and 14% of older Australians
Welfare is a concept that extends beyond support payments and services—it encompasses the broad range of individual, social, political and environmental factors that can influence a person’s wellbeing. We need accurate, reliable data if we are to understand how these factors interact. The AIHW understands welfare as a concept that extends beyond the welfare systems, and one that affects wellbeing as illustrated by the diagram below.
As the characteristics of the Australian population change, understanding current and emerging societal shifts behind this change is crucial to appropriately and effectively deliver health and welfare services. Data are essential to understand how people engage with and navigate welfare services, and are useful for planning, implementing and delivering services. The ability to link data across different services helps in understanding pathways and relationships between health and welfare.
In the current data landscape there is an increased recognition of the importance of using data to improve outcomes for the population, while assuring privacy and security of data. The AIHW has a pivotal role in producing and reporting data to improve the wellbeing of Australians and, where possible, investigate the interrelationships.
The AIHW also compares outcomes for different population groups, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, people living in remote areas, older people, people with disability, people with mental illness, children in the child protection and justice systems, and prisoners.
However, gaps exist where there are no national data currently available or where data collected are not comprehensive. In the context of welfare data, there are gaps in some areas, including:
A key focus of the AIHW is to fill data gaps related to health and welfare—working with data providers to enhance existing collections or create new ones. For example, the AIHW is using a longitudinal researchable database on income support payments and characteristics to examine the long-term welfare outcomes and transitions for vulnerable and disadvantaged groups.
This report highlights some interesting discussions and analyses across different areas of welfare in Australia. It also draws attention to areas where data and its use can be improved. The articles in the report illustrate that it is not just about having the data, but what is done with the data and how it can be used to improve health and welfare services to individuals, families and communities and achieve better outcomes.
Australia’s welfare indicators summarise the performance of welfare services, track individual and household determinants of the need for welfare support, and provide insights into the nation’s wellbeing more broadly.
Based on trends over 10 years, Australia is doing well in a number of areas:
We are not doing as well in a number of other areas:
A lack of social mobility (a shift in a person’s socioeconomic position) imposes costs on society, including the squandering of people’s talents, and undermining productivity and economic growth. Social mobility is likely lower in Australia than in some developed countries (mainly Scandinavian and Nordic countries) and higher than in others (most notably the United States).
Research and data on the passing of disadvantage (and advantage) from one generation to the next is important for developing a better understanding of how social mobility operates in Australia. This includes examining intergenerational disadvantage through the lens of earnings and welfare receipt.
Australia’s social security system aims to support people who cannot fully support themselves through income support payments and other services. It is an important part of the larger network of services and assistance provided by governments and non-government organisations to improve the wellbeing of Australians.
Around half of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians aged 15–64 received an income support payment in 2016. By looking at long-term patterns—including people’s movements on and off income support, and across different payment types—the analysis provides new insights into Indigenous Australians’ receipt of income support, including whether people can be considered ‘reliant’ on these payments.
The Australian economy is responding to an ageing population and a shift towards service industries. Increasing automation in jobs across a range of industries may have further implications for the future of work. In a changing economy it is critical to understand which skills can lead to greater employment opportunities. Analysis of the skills involved in current Australian jobs and how these are changing over time provides valuable information for future change and may help to minimise skills gaps.
Estimates of the potential impacts of automation on employment vary widely, with a number of studies producing different predictions. While some jobs may be lost to automation, other jobs will be created, and a key challenge for current and future workers is to be flexible and able to acquire new skills as tasks within jobs change. This points to the need for planning, financing and delivering reskilling and job-transition programs.
The history of disability services and statistics in Australia is marked by a collaborative interplay of ideas, national policy development and national data. Reflecting on these practices is important at a time of significant change in the disability services and data landscape.
The thinking about disability and attitudes towards people with disability have changed since the early 20th century in many parts of the world. In Australia, there was a growing recognition of the needs of war veterans and people injured in industrial accidents, with a related querying of the previous institutional and charity models of service. By the end of World War 2, support for people with disability was increasingly accepted as a social responsibility. Current disability policy focuses on social and economic participation outcomes, inclusion and choice.
Elder abuse can be understood as harm or distress caused to an older person within a relationship that has an expectation of trust. The most common forms of elder abuse are financial, psychological, physical, sexual, and social abuse, as well as neglect. There have not been any large-scale studies into the prevalence of elder abuse in Australia, but preparation for a national prevalence study is currently underway.
As elder abuse crosses many aspects of our community, strategies to address the issue will need involvement from all jurisdictions, as well as the mental health, housing, banking and aged care sectors. To support this, Australia needs better data so policymakers understand the scale of the problem, key patterns and trends.
Over the past decade there has been a large increase in the use of administrative data in academic and policy research. More recently governments have invested in using data to inform policy and service delivery decisions. Demonstrating public good in the use of public data builds broad community support for use of linked administrative data by government and researchers.
The South Australian Early Childhood Data Project (SA ECDP) is able to track children’s health and welfare from before birth into early adulthood, and is one of the most comprehensive linked data resources in Australia. The SA ECDP holds linked de-identified administrative data for about 450,000 South Australian children born from 1991 onwards, and their parents and carers. Three case studies illustrate the value of data linkage.
The SA ECDP has been a platform for research and academic partnerships, including with government agencies. The opening up of data sources across Australia and the growing recognition of the value of linked data represent an opportunity to inform and evaluate innovative approaches to intractable social problems, such as child maltreatment, while preserving confidentiality and privacy.
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