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.

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, including recent migrants, 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.


Social procurement Exploring how to leverage purchasing expenditure to create job opportunities and achieve other social objectives

Trampolines not traps: re-imagining income support for single mothers and their children

Reclaiming social security
This project explores the adequacy and targeting of income support – and the impact of conditions imposed on people who receive it.

Youth Lens: education and employment perspectives of young people from refugee backgrounds

Young people took photos to shed light on their experiences of education or employment.

Working well? Older workers, health and work

This study will explore the diversity of older workers’ work–health dilemmas and effective national policies to solve them.

Humanitarian migrants, work and economic security on the urban fringe

What factors inhibit or enable the economic security of migrants on Safe Haven Enterprise visas or Temporary Protection visas?

Enhancing employment services for mature-age jobseekers
While policy responses to workforce age discrimination tend to focus on the role of employers, this research focused 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 examined 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.  


Basic income: a solution to what?  presentation at the John Cain Foundation

Working for everyone online resources for josbeekers and those who assist them

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

Mature age jobseekers face an awkward situation

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 jobseeker groups.

No! Not equal

Dina Bowman and Yvette Maker 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 

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

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