Report shows rich get richer, poor get poorer

A NEW report has revealed households in the wealthiest fifth of Australian households each own 70 times as much as the nation's poorest.

The report found the top fifth of households own an average of $2 million each with the bottom fifth having less than $44,250 each.

It revealed groups more likely to be found in the bottom of the income distribution are those aged over 65, sole parents, people from non-English speaking countries and those reliant on government benefits as their main source of income.

The Australian Council of Social Service commissioned the report that was launched on Monday at Sydney's Mount Druitt Community Hub

It also found there was a significant urban and regional divide.

The report, Inequality in Australia: A nation divided, revealed people in capital cities were more likely to be in the top 20%, while those outside capital cities are more likely to be in the bottom 20%.

ACOSS chief Dr Cassandra Goldie said governments needed to address the growing inequality being witnessed across the country.

"It should be a concern to us all that despite more than 20 years of unparalleled economic growth, we have allowed complacency to blind us to the need to ensure the benefits of growth and prosperity are shared by everyone," she said.

"Over the last 20 years the share of income going to those at the top has risen, while the share flowing to those in the middle and at the bottom has declined."

The report also found the proportion of people aged between 25-34 owning or buying a home had slumped from 60% in the 1980s to 48% today with higher prices benefiting those already in houses at the expense of those no longer able to buy.

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