Poverty and Social Exclusion

While poverty is sometimes measured only by a person’s income, it has long been recognised as more complex than this. Living in poverty often involves missing out on resources or opportunities which are available to many or most Australians. This understanding has led researchers interested in the experience of poverty to explore the related idea of social exclusion.

A mother with her husband and young child.

Understanding and measuring exclusion has moved beyond analysis of income and assets, such as home ownership, to include other essentials for participation in society, such as access to education, health services and transport, and non-material aspects such as safety and social interaction.

Our research has considered ways to measure social exclusion and to track whether income poverty and social exclusion of individuals and households persist or change over time – for example following the global financial crisis. We are also interested in the short and long-term impacts of poverty and exclusion at different stages of life. Sen’s concept of capabilities – the idea that a person’s wellbeing is determined not simply by the resources they hold, but by the various things they are able to be and to do – is key to this work. The purpose of our analysis is to inform policies and programs that will create a fairer society.

Learn about the social exclusion monitor »


Community service organisations like the Brotherhood have a vital role to play in addressing poverty and social exclusion.

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Find out more about the work of the Brotherhood
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Given the Chance

The Brotherhood of St Laurence acknowledges and recognises the Traditional Owners of the land upon which we live and work, and we pay our respects to their Elders both past and present.