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Low income households are households that are in the lowest 18% of equivalised disposable household income (EDHI)1.  EDHI refers to the amount of money, after tax and other deductions, which is available; divided by the number of household members converted to equivalised adults (weighted according to age)1. It is used as an indicator of the economic resources available to a household1.

Low income is an important social determinant of health and wellbeing, and a good indicator of disadvantage (a significant risk factor for poorer health outcomes throughout the lifespan)2-4. Low income acts as a health determinant because it can negatively impact a range of living and working conditions like housing standards, access to quality healthcare, availability nutritious food, educational attainment, exposure to stress and options for healthy pursuits such as sports clubs4-6. Further, children from low income households can have lower school readiness (associated with poorer health outcomes across the lifespan) due to financial stress impacting family relationships and reduced family ability to invest in advantageous experiences such as preschool or playgroups7.

Further, low income households tend to be concentrated in particular suburbs and neighbourhoods8. The accumulation of people living with fewer financial resources in particular geographical areas can further exacerbate disadvantage as these areas tend to have less community resources, reduced neighbourhood safety, poorer services (e.g. education, health care, public transport) and lower social cohesion8.

Considering the relationship between child development and disadvantage, understanding which areas of the state have a greater proportion of low income households can guide policy and strategy to invest in the improvement of the living conditions of children to improve public health across the lifespan6.


  1. Australian Bureau of statistics [Internet]. Canberra ACT. Household Income and Income Distribution Australia 2015-16, cat. no.6523.0. 2017 [cited 22 May 2018]. Available from:
  2. Tough P. Helping children succeed: What works and why [Internet]. Random House; 2016 May 26. [cited 22 May 2018]. Available from:
  3. Zubrick S, Williams A, Silburn S, Vimpani G. Indicators of Social and Family Functioning [Internet]. Commonwealth of Australia; Department of Family and Community Services. 2000 May [cited 2018 Jun 11]. Available from:
  4. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare [Internet]. Canberra ACT. Australia’s health 2016; Australia’s health series no. 15. Cat. no. AUS 199. 2016 [cited 2018 Jun 11]. Available from:  
  5. Braveman P, Gottlieb L. The social determinants of health: It's time to consider the causes of the causes. Public Health Reports, 2014; 129(1):19-31. Available from:
  6. Braveman P, Barclay C. Health disparities beginning in childhood: A life-course perspective. Pediatrics, 2009; 124(Supplement 3):163-75. Available from:
  7. Rosier K, McDonald M. Promoting positive education and care transitions for children. Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies; 2011 Nov [cited 2018 Jun 11]. Available from:
  8. Pawson H, Hulse K, Cheshire L. Addressing concentrations of disadvantage in urban Australia. Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute [Internet]. Melbourne VIC. 2015 Sep 16 [cited 2018 Jun 12]. Available from:

Data Source 

Census of Population and Housing, Australian Bureau of Statistics

T22 - ABS TSP Census DataPacks (couple families)

T23 - ABS TSP Census DataPacks (single parent families)


Number of low income households (single parent and couple families)


Total number of households

Unit of Measure 

Per cent (%)



Data Confidentiality

Areas with a numerator less than 5 have been supressed


Data are presented separately for 2006, 2011, and 2016 Census years.

Two indicators represent low income families: 

  • Couple families < $1,000 income per week
  • Single parent families < $1000 income per week