Big Divide Among Older Australians
A landmark analysis of census data shows that a ‘wellbeing divide’ is emerging among older Australians, with housing the key issue.
With low incomes and relying on the age pension, getting around without a car, and living in rental or public housing, Australia’s seniors doing it tough are living in large numbers on the fringes of the capital cities.
Secure and affordable housing was the most crucial factor affecting an older person’s wellbeing, the new analysis showed.
The Index of Wellbeing for Older Australians (IWOA), conducted by The National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM) and commissioned by The Benevolent Society, identified the areas where seniors with the lowest level of wellbeing lived, and the factors that contributed most to their low wellbeing.
The study, the first of its kind in Australia, examined how seniors were faring in key domains including health, education, wealth and housing, using data from the census and other public sources.
It identifies the areas where older people with the lowest level of wellbeing live, and the factors that contribute most to their low wellbeing.
Key findings & implications
- The largest concentrations of older people experiencing low wellbeing tend to be in outer metropolitan areas.
- Older people in regional areas of Australia generally have moderate to high levels of wellbeing, with the exception of some regional towns where well-being is low.
- The areas of each state with the lowest and the highest levels of wellbeing are almost all located in major cities.
- The most important indicator – the one that influences everything else – is housing. We face a crisis of wellbeing among the growing number of older people on low incomes who don’t own a home.
- Older people in private rental, on a low income, are doing it toughest. With so much of their income spent on housing costs there is little to cover essentials like food, health, transport and energy costs. For some, it means being forced to move to areas with less amenities and poorer access to services.