Work and economic security

Paid employment can provide a path out of poverty. But low wages, insecure work and rising costs of living mean that for many people in Australia a job does not guarantee economic security.

Young man preparing vegetables

Despite sustained economic growth in Australia, inequality persists and the gap between the rich and the poor is widening. Unemployment and underemployment are increasing. Factors such as age, gender, disability or ill-health, and ethnic background may affect pathways into and in and out of work. People who rely on low wages or income support can struggle to make ends meet.

Our research and policy work examines the links between the changing nature of work, social and economic policy, inequality and insecurity. We study the current and future impacts for those groups in society that are more likely than others to experience poverty and social exclusion. Our work informs the development of policies and programs to address the growing differences in employment opportunity and economic security.


Enhancing employment services for mature-age jobseekers
Existing policy responses to workforce age discrimination tend to focus on the role of employers in providing opportunities for older Australians. This research project by contrast will focus on employment services.

Spinning the plates

How are low and moderate income households coping with financial uncertainty? 

Understanding and preventing workforce vulnerabilities in midlife and beyond

This study examines mature aged people's lived experience, pathways and outcomes of involuntary non-participation or underparticipation in paid work.

Life Chances study

The latest stage of this unique longitudinal study examines how family income, social class, ethnicity and gender affect the education and employment pathways of young people.  

Line of Sight research and evaluation
The Brotherhood’s Line of Sight strategy aims to test innovative approaches to employment services for disadvantaged job seekers.

Pathways to employment for disadvantaged jobseekers
We continue to monitor the effectiveness of Job Services Australia in meeting the needs of disadvantaged job seekers.


Inclusive work and economic security: a framework
Working paper by Dina Bowman and John van Kooy

Four articles related to mature-age employment in Social Policy and Society vol. 15, no. 4

A gendered analysis of age discrimination among older jobseekers in Australia, by Michael McGann, Rachel Ong, Dina Bowman, Alan Duncan, Helen Kimberley and Simon Biggs, Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre Working Paper 16/01

Refugee women as entrepreneurs in Australia

Article by John van Kooy in Forced Migration Review

Too old to work, too young to retire
With people living longer and the working age population in decline, older Australians are being asked to work longer. Yet increasing numbers are experiencing long-term unemployment and chronic job insecurity.

Making sense of youth transitions from education to workThe term 'youth transitions' has become increasingly fraught as the age range of 'youth' is stretched.

Employer toolkits: towards inclusive employment
The strengths and limitations of ‘toolkits’ designed to help employers remove barriers for particular jobseeker groups.

No! Not equal

Dina Bowman and Yvette Maker present the urgent need to address the gender inequality that prevents many Australian women from achieving economic security, in a publication by Future Leaders. Download the No! Not equal text by chapter

What’s the difference? Jobseeker perspectives on employment assistance 

Investing in local people and harnessing local communities: a progress report on Victoria's Work and Learning Centres

Contact Dina Bowman (03) 9483 1373 or dbowman(at) to find out more about this work.

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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.