By CELA on 14 Nov, 2019

New report reveals that nearly one in five NSW children under 14 are living in poverty

The New South Wales Council of Social Service (NCOSS) has released mapping of economic disadvantage in New South Wales. The report, and accompanying maps, provides a high level of insight into how families are tracking across the state.

The report shows that overall around 13% of the population are living below the poverty line.

Shockingly, children are the most likely age group to be living in poverty with nearly one in five children aged under 14 living in poverty.

Amplify shares the key findings from the report and what you can do to help.

Key factors impacting poverty and where it’s most prevalent

There is a wide variety in levels of poverty across New South Wales – from one in twelve people in Queanbeyan to nearly one in three in Guildford-South, Granville.

Key factors impacting levels of poverty include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status, disability and home owning status. People who identify with multiple factors are far more likely to find themselves in poverty.

Whilst a having a job protects against poverty it does not guarantee it. A small number of people working (5-7%) live below the poverty line compared to one in three unemployed people.

Children who are raised in a single parent family are at particular risk of being in poverty. The statistics are particularly stark for regional New South Wales – over half of all single parents in ten regional locations are in poverty.

The maps below show levels of child poverty across regional New South Wales. The darkest pink areas have between one in five and two in five children experiencing poverty.

Distribution of child poverty rates across NSW.
Sourced from: Mapping Economic Disadvantage in NSW report.
Whilst poverty levels are higher in some areas it is important to note that there are children in poverty across NSW, with high concentrations of poverty across metropolitan areas. Sourced from: Mapping Economic Disadvantage in NSW report.

These maps, developed to reflect poverty levels of different cohorts of people such as children, single parents and older people, help us to understand that varying nature of poverty.

“The research helps us to understand that poverty is not always visible,” says Megan O’Connell, CELA’s research and policy advisor. “Just because a suburb has a high average income, it is possible there is a high level of child poverty.”

The list below shows how concentrations of poverty by area vary between children and older adults. They also show that in the most affluent communities, some families will be in poverty.

Areas with the lowest and highest poverty rates for children and older people.
Sourced from: Mapping Economic Disadvantage in NSW report.

How you can help

“Centres can look at the report to identify the number of families that might be in poverty in their community,” says Ms O’Connell.  “Poverty isn’t a static state, Some families will move in and out of poverty depending on their circumstances. ECEC services can assist by suggesting families talk with Centrelink – they may be eligible for the Additional Child Care Subsidy to support their children attending ECEC.”

Services are encouraged to examine their local community data and alert families to services that can support them. CELA will continue to work with the NSW Government to advocate for children, particularly those most vulnerable.

“The data clearly shows children in some areas of NSW are doing it extremely tough,” says Michele Carnegie, CELA CEO. “We see it in levels of vulnerability when children start school. Families in poverty can’t afford to access the extra services their children need. Service providers bear an incredible load supporting these families with no extra resources.”



The report uses the same method to calculate poverty as that used in other national research – examining household disposable income after tax and adjusting it for number of household members. Housing costs are taken out of the income, given the huge variation in housing prices and rents, to ensure the disposable income remaining is a true reflection of money left to meet other living costs. Data is sourced from the 2016 census.

Further information including community maps are available at

About CELA

Community Early Learning Australia is a not for profit organisation with a focus on amplifying the value of early learning for every child across Australia - representing our members and uniting our sector as a force for quality education and care.

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