Launch of research into low pay and inequality

Wednesday, 25 August 2004

Understanding the widening gap between rich and poor in Australian society will be the focus of a $511,000 national research project being launched today by the University of Adelaide.

"Low paid employment in the services sector is driving an increase in what we call the 'working poor' in Australia," according to one of the project leaders Associate Professor Barbara Pocock, Queen Elizabeth II Fellow, Labour Studies, School of Social Sciences at the University of Adelaide.

"We will examine how low paid work in the services sector intersects with the welfare system, how poor people 'churn' through work and welfare, and how this affects them, their households and their communities.

"Most importantly, with our industry partners, we will explore practical responses to these problems," she said.

The new research project brings together universities, unions and welfare bodies. The Universities of Adelaide, Sydney and RMIT will be working with the Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union, the labour councils in New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria, and the Brotherhood of St Laurence.

Dr Pocock said these organisations are putting in their own resources to work, alongside funding from the Australian Research Council, to undertake the research which will give voice to the low paid and working poor in Australia, and drive new policy ideas.

The project will investigate growth in low pay and working poverty in three states, Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia. Over the past twenty years in Australia, eighty per cent of new jobs have been paid less than $600 a week, with rapid growth in insecure casual work in the services sector.

The project will examine the consequences of this growth for the nature of life in Australian communities and workplaces, and review national and international approaches, which address these consequences.


Contact Details

Associate Professor Barbara Pocock
Queen Elizabeth II Fellow in Labour Studies
School of Social Sciences
University of Adelaide.
Business: 8313 3736
Mobile: 0414 244 606

Media Team
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 0814