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.

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.

Social exclusion monitor

The social exclusion monitor is an approach to measuring social exclusion in Australia, developed by the Brotherhood of St Laurence and the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research.

Learn about the latest data from the social exclusion monitor»

Working paper

Basic income: trade-offs and bottom lines

With the uncertain future of employment and with political pressure on social welfare spending, there is renewed interest in the concept of a basic (or guaranteed) income. This is a form of social security in which individuals receive a regular, often unconditional payment from either government or a public institution. 

This working paper examines the purpose and intent of key basic income proposals and trials in Australia and overseas. It then proposes a nine-dimension framework, expanded from the framework of De Wispelaere and Stirton (2004), for assessing basic income policies, especially their capacity to underpin economic security.

The paper is part of a program of activities to honour Professor Ronald Henderson’s work on poverty, social security and basic income. Conducted throughout 2016 and 2017, the program involved a partnership between the University of Melbourne and Brotherhood of St Laurence, supported by the Henderson family.

Dina Bowman, Shelley Mallett and Dairmuid Cooney-O’Donoghue 2017, Basic income: trade-offs and bottom lines (PDF, 471 KB)


The mission of the community service sector in a time of change

Community service organisations like the Brotherhood have a vital role to play in addressing poverty and social exclusion. However, the way human services are funded is changing. There are new opportunities for community service organisations, but risks too.

Do charitable providers have to choose between the money or the mission, or can we balance both?

Read more

The Brotherhood of St Laurence (BSL) acknowledges and understands its obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and recognises that all children and young people have the right to be treated with respect and care, and to be safe from all forms of abuse. BSL has a zero tolerance towards child abuse.
Read the official statement signed by the Executive Director.

The Brotherhood recognises the harm that family violence causes and that freedom from violence is a basic human right.
We will support our staff, volunteers, clients and the community if they experience violence.

Find out more about the work of the Brotherhood
Australian Aboriginal flag, a yellow circle on two horizontal black and red stripes

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.

Torres Strait Islander flag, an icon of a traditional headdress on blue, black and green stripes