Hidden in plain sight: the impact of the COVID-19 response on mature-age low-income people in Australia

Amber Mills, Suyin Ng, James Finnis, Kate Grutzner and Bhairavi Raman

The crisis may be easing, but for mature-age, low-income Australians the consequences are likely to persist. New research shines a light on this group who have so far been overlooked.

At a glance

The Brotherhood of St Laurence and Nous Group (Nous) have partnered to analyse the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic public health response on low-income earners aged 50 to 65. Not yet eligible for the pension or aged care, many of these people are caught between employment and retirement: too old to work and too young to retire.

Dive deeper

Australian governments have responded swiftly to the pandemic. Many mature-age, low-income people will benefit from these initiatives. However, most interventions have involved short-term increases in funding, channelled via existing systems and service structures. COVID-19 has highlighted that existing policies do not meet the needs of people who face entrenched disadvantage.

In this paper, we focus on broad and multidimensional disadvantage including:

  • employment
  • economic security
  • housing
  • health and connections.

Medium to long-term solutions for these people require overcoming structural inequalities and barriers that existed prior to COVID-19. We propose immediate steps to provide relief, as well as ways forward to achieve lasting change.

Last updated on 1 July 2020