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

Many Australians today working casually or on contract have to cope with the fact that their wage one week may be higher or lower than their wage the next week. Some may also have to deal with problems related to their Centrelink payments due to their work or a range of other issues.

International research shows that people with volatile incomes face increased financial risks making ends meet. Yet little is known in Australia about how much household incomes vary from payday to payday, how many households are affected, what types of financial 'juggling' households do, or how they find coping with this problem.

A major aim of the Spinning the Plates study was to provide evidence for organisations like the Brotherhood of St Laurence to better advocate on behalf of people with low and fluctuating incomes.

The project aimed to:

  • better understand how household incomes may change from one pay period to the next
  • find out how households manage their finances to cope with changes in their fortnightly income or an unexpected expense (for example, through relying on savings, borrowing from a family member or taking out a small loan).

An area of special interest was understanding why people with variable incomes do or do not take out insurance.


Dina Bowman and Marcus Banks 2018, Hard times: Australian households and financial insecurity (PDF, 472 KB)

Marcus Banks and Dina Bowman 2017, Juggling risks: insurance in households struggling with financial insecurity (PDF, 1.1 MB)


Dina Bowman and Marcus Banks 2017, 'People on low incomes are sacrificing basic goods to take out insurance' in The Conversation, 21 December.

Research team

Dr Marcus Banks

Dr Dina Bowman
Principal Research Fellow
(03) 9483 1373

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