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Income & Employment

Eighty-eight per cent of respondents were recipients of various income support payments:

   • 35% Newstart allowance
   • 29% Disability Support Pension
   • 25% Parenting payments.

For the minority of respondents income sources included:

   • 5% were employed
   • 4% were retired
   • 3% had no income.

A large proportion of respondents who access ER services were in receipt of income support. This suggests that for many households, payments are insufficient to adequately live on, especially as living expenses and accommodation costs continue to increase. For many respondents, accessing community support services is a safety net and way to manage on limited means.

The proportion of individuals in receipt of income support is very similar to the results  in previous ESIS reports and the wider Salvation Army client demographic data.

“I have a neck injury, but want to work. Never have I ever been so destitute in my life. Funny what life has in store for us. Ever since I had a workplace accident (not being my fault) and injured my neck, my life has gone downhill a considerable amount…from having everything (family, friends) to having nothing, what an eye opener.”

"It is difficult to find more hours to work. As a single mother of one I am struggling. I have so many issues that can’t be sorted out financially. Even though I am working it seems I am not getting anywhere. Paying all the unseen bills has made my health really bad. In the past two years my daughter and I have moved houses three times. I feel very insecure.”

“I experience discrimination from employers and the public because of my disability.”

Barriers to Employment


Respondents identified many challenges and barriers to seeking and sustaining employment. Of those who responded (n =2,039), one-third were actively looking for work, one-third were not currently looking for work although may do so in the future, and one-third were not looking for work.

For individuals looking for work, 51% of respondents had been unemployed for up to 12 months and 32% had not been working for a period of time and found it hard to find a job.

Fifty-nine per cent of respondents who were not looking for work reported physical/mental health issues as the main cause of not seeking employment.

Of statistical significance, mental and/or physical health conditions were the major barrier preventing respondents from entering the workforce. As observed in previous ESIS reports, there was a genuine willingness to seek employment, however respondents were hindered by their current health situation or caring duty, or lack of job opportunity that suits their current health conditions or caring duty. 

Fifty per cent of respondents who may be looking for work in the future identified parenting and caring responsibilities as the main barrier preventing them from working.

For many respondents, parenting responsibilities were a significant barrier, either preventing individuals entering, remaining in or seeking employment. The cost and availability of childcare, coupled with the availability of part-time work during school hours, may contribute to some of these challenges, particularly for single parents gaining employment.