Notes on the data: Income support

People receiving an unemployment benefit, June 2017

Policy context: Those people who do not have access to secure and satisfying work are less likely to have an adequate income; and unemployment and underemployment are generally associated with reduced life opportunities and poorer health and wellbeing. Although the relationship between unemployment and health and wellbeing is complex and varies for different population groups, there is consistent evidence from research that unemployment is associated with adverse health outcomes; and unemployment has a direct effect on physical and mental health over and above the effects of socioeconomic status, poverty, risk factors, or prior ill-health [1,2,3].

Unemployment and its accompanying health effects are not distributed evenly through the population. Unemployment rates in Australia are highest among people aged less than 25 years, and are generally higher in rural and remote areas than in urban areas.


  1. Mathers CD, Schofield DJ. The health consequences of unemployment: the evidence. Med J Aust. 1998;168(4):178-82.
  2. Dollard MF, Winefield AH. Mental health: overemployment, underemployment, unemployment and healthy jobs. Aust e-J Adv Mental Hlth. 2002;1(3).
  3. World Health Organization (WHO). Promoting mental health: concepts, emerging evidence, practice. Geneva: WHO; 2005.


Errata: Incorrect data were identified for this indicator in the previous release. The data have now been updated in this edition.

People receiving an ‘unemployment benefit' - which includes the Newstart Allowance or Youth Allowance (other)1 paid by the Department of Human Services - are shown as proportion of the eligible population (of persons aged 16 to 64 years).

For total unemployment, this is the maximum of either youth allowance (other) plus newstart allowance or newstart allowance (180 days)/youth allowance (other)(<180 days) plus newstart allowance (180 days plus)/youth allowance (other)(<180 days plus)

Note that these figures can be undercounted by up to 4 people if one of the cells is confidentialised.

Data cells with less than 5 counts were removed (confidentialised).

1 Youth Allowance (other) is largely comprised of unemployed people aged 16 to 21 looking for full-time work or undertaking approved activities, such as part-time study or training. It excludes Youth Allowance customers who are full-time students or undertaking an apprenticeship/ traineeship.

Geography: Data available by Population Health Area, Local Government Area, Primary Health Network, Quintiles and Remoteness Areas

Numerator: People in receipt of a Newstart Allowance or Youth Allowance (other) from the Department of Human Services

Denominator: People aged 16 to 64 years

Detail of analysis: Per cent

Source: Compiled by PHIDU based on data from the Department of Social Services, June 2017; and ABS Estimated Resident Population, 30 June 2017.

© PHIDU This content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Australia licence.