Young people whose parents receive welfare far less likely to be working or studying

Content type
Media release

August 2023


Clement Wong, Brendan Quinn, Lisa Mundy

Young people whose parents receive welfare payments are far less likely to be working or studying in late adolescence, according to research by the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS).

The study has revealed adolescents had 80% higher odds of not being in employment or in education or training at age 18–19 if a parent received welfare for 3.5 years or more over a 15-year period, and 51% higher odds if their parent received any welfare.

The research used survey responses from the Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) – which has been tracking thousands of Australian children for two decades – paired with Centrelink data for the primary parents from 2002 to 2017.

Overall, at age 18–19, around 1 in 12 (8%) adolescents were not engaged in education, employment or training.

More than 40% of adolescents were both studying and working, 30% were working only and 19% of were studying only.

LSAC Program Lead, Dr Lisa Mundy from AIFS, said the findings have implications for policymakers, as well as employers and local communities.

'We know that not being in education, employment or training in adolescence can impact on many aspects of life,' Dr Mundy said.

'Young people in this situation often experience lower rates of academic performance, lower rates of employment, more social exclusion, and poorer physical and mental health outcomes.

'When governments at all levels work effectively with employers and local communities to address entrenched disadvantage, there is a real opportunity to break the cycle, and make a lasting difference to young people and their families,' Dr Mundy said.

Minister for Social Services, Amanda Rishworth, said this research is further proof that young people experiencing economic disadvantage have not been getting the support and interventions they need.

'Young people have been consistently overlooked. That’s why the Treasurer and I worked to deliver an almost $200 million investment in the last Budget to tackle entrenched disadvantage. The package has a strong focus on giving young people a voice to come up with their own solutions to meet their needs and aspirations,' Minister Rishworth said.

'We want to see more community-led initiatives like the Burnie Works ‘Every Day Counts’ school attendance campaign, which empowered young people to explore the issues that impact their ability to attend school, and identify youth-led ways to support school attendance. Their solution was an advertisement which shows primary and secondary school-aged children being affected practically and emotionally when their friends don’t come to school.

'Evidence shows that targeted investment in community-led projects like this across the country will help break the cycle of intergenerational disadvantage and improve outcomes for young people,' Minister Rishworth said.

See the full report: Parents' welfare receipt and their children's employment and education outcomes

LSAC is an ongoing national study. In 2004 around 5,000 babies aged up to one, and 5,000 4 to 5 year-olds and their families were recruited and have been surveyed every two years since. This has given researchers a deep understanding of the experiences of children and young people growing up in Australia. 

Media contact     
Kate O'Connor      
Phone: 0499 860 257  
Email: kate.o'[email protected]