Shaz on Christmas Island wonders why the last couple of arrivals have been "99% male"?
Bluey speaks for a nation.

A bit of analysis on who gets our welfare payments. One country of birth stands out. A lot.


I've chosen to study a cohort of overseas-born Australians and their uptake of Australian Government welfare payments.

76,451 Australians or 0.35% of our population was born in Lebanon.

Of that 76,451:

  • 11,515 are on the Disability Support Pension.   1 in 6 Lebanese-born Australians.
  • 1,315 receive a Wife Pension
  • 5,714 receive a Carer Payment
  • 8,991 receive a Carer Allowance
  • 3,852 receive a Parenting Payment

And none of that includes normal Family Tax Part A or B, Baby Bonus, Study Allowances, Newstart and the other more traditional welfare payments.

The Analysis

This detailed Australian Government publication accounts for the money the Australian Government takes from taxpayers to give to welfare recipients customers.

It gives a wealth of statistical information about customers' age, gender, country of birth and other data.  

I'd commend it to you as a great read.  Good on them for publishing it.   The statistics here are to the end FY 2010, that data set matches up with the latest 2011 Census information.

Welfare stats

I'll start with one statistic as it flows through this report -  country of birth.

So that makes sense, we'll have to know the country-of-birth stats for the whole population of Australia.  

The ABS data on the 2011 Census tells us the population of Australia was 21,507,717

Population born overseas

Top 10 countries of birth.    

Countries of birth
Here are the top countries of birth down to just under the 1% of population mark.

Australia country of birth

It's around 30% of our population born overseas, about 70% born here.   Once we get past the top 5 countries of birth we're well below the 1% of total population mark.

After the top 10 countries its hard to extract hard data.   But there's one country that seems to show up in the top 5 welfare recipients and it's nowhere near the top 10 countries of birth.


The Department of Immigration and Citizenship has published the hard 2011 Census data on Lebanese-born people living in Australia.

Lebanon born population
The arithmetic should read 76,451 as a percentage of 21,507,717 - by my sums that's 0.35%

So if we're all humans with the same distribution of illness, disability, unemployment etc, we'd expect to see distributions of welfare payments that match the broader population distributions.

Let's go to the Aged Pension, top 5 countries of birth.

Age Pension

The Age Pension is a non-contributory payment for people satisfying age and residence requirements and whose income and assets are below certain limits. It is designed to ensure that senior Australians have adequate means of support.

For men, the current qualifying age for Age Pension is 65 years. For women, the qualifying age is gradually being increased to 65 years.

Age pension

So we'd expect to see about 70% of recipients born here, but this data set will be skewed by the age of recipients.

That said, the UK, Italy and Greece are much higher than their total population proportion.

Aged Pensions are also affected by reciprocal arrangements with some countries that are addressed further on in the Statistical Report.   

6.4 Total balance of payments

Yearly expenditure as at June 2010 on Australia's pension payments to people living overseas was A$571.3 million. At the same time, pensions from overseas countries being paid to people residing in Australia totalled A$1.2 billion to Centrelink pensioners, representing a significant inflow of funds into Australia, an increase in the disposable income for pensioners, and a saving for Australian taxpayers.

So, to welfare payments that have a less skewed age-distribution.

Disability Support Pension

As at June 2010, to be eligible for Disability Support Pension a person must be permanently blind or have a permanent physical, intellectual or psychiatric impairment of at least 20 points under the impairment tables. An 'impairment' is defined as permanent under the Social Security Act 1991 if it is fully diagnosed, treated and stabilised and likely to last for at least two years without significant functional improvement. The person must be unable to work for at least 15 hours per week at or above the relevant minimum wage for the next two years or be retrained for such work within the next two years because of that impairment.

To qualify for Disability Support Pension, a person must be aged 16 years or over but have not reached Age Pension age at the time of claiming. If already receiving Disability Support Pension, a person can continue to be paid Disability Support Pension after reaching Age Pension age. The person must also be an Australian resident, living in Australia at the time they claim, and have 10 years' qualifying residence.

There is no period of residence qualification required if the inability to work or permanent blindness occurs while the person is an Australian resident.

Disability pension

The number of Australians born in Lebanon is 76,451 - and 11,515 are on the disability support pension!  That's 1 in every 6 Lebanese-born Australians disabled?

Ever heard of the "Wife Pension"?

Wife Pension

Wife Pension is gradually being phased out. No new grants have been made from 1 July 1995. However, women who received a Wife Pension at that date can continue to receive this payment. To qualify for Wife Pension, a woman must be the wife of an Age or Disability Support pensioner and not receiving a pension in her own right.

Partners of new applicants for Age or Disability Support Pensions need to test their own eligibility for payments such as Age Pension, Parenting Payment, Carer Payment, Disability Support Pension or Newstart Allowance.

Wife Pension is subject to income and assets tests. Residence requirements may apply.

Wife pension

5.3% of recipients are Lebanese.   That's 15 times the .35% of Lebanese-born Australians.

Carer Payment

Carer Payment is for carers who provide full-time care in the home of the person(s) being cared for, and who, because of the demands of their caring role, are unable to support themselves by participating substantially in the workforce.

To qualify for Carer Payment, a person must be caring for someone who has a severe disability or medical condition and who is:

  • receiving a social security or a Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA) income support payment, or
  • not receiving payment solely for reasons of lack of sufficient period of residence in Australia, or
  • not receiving a social security or a DVA income support payment but satisfying the special care receiver income and assets tests.

The person claiming must:

  • be personally providing constant care to a care receiver who satisfies eligibility requirements, and
  • not be in receipt of any other income support payment, and
  • be in Australia at the time the care is given and be a permanent resident of Australia.

Carer payments

Again the total Lebanese born population - 76,451.  5,704 getting the Carer Payment? 

But not only is there a Carer Payment, there's also a Carer's Allowance.


Carer Allowance

Carer Allowance is a supplementary payment available to a person who provides daily care and attention for adults or children with a disability or medical condition.

Carer Allowance was introduced on 1 July 1999. It combined Child Disability Allowance with Domiciliary Nursing Care Benefit (the latter of which was the responsibility of the Health and Aged Care portfolio).

  • Carer Allowance may be paid for up to two adults who receive daily care and attention, and/or any number of dependent children with a disability or medical condition. The carer or parent may be eligible to receive a fortnightly payment of Carer Allowance for each eligible person in their care.

Carer allowance payment

8,900 on that out of 76,000.

I'd never heard of Parenting Payments.   You'll never guess who has.   And Iraq is in the top 5 for this payment too.


Parenting Payment

Parenting Payment was introduced to help people with children, particularly low-income families, by providing an independent income.

Parenting Payment is available to the primary carer of children and is paid to both single and partnered parents—although to only one member of a couple.

Parenting Payment is subject to residence requirements and income and assets tests.

Parenting payment

These numbers are frightening.   And we are importing people who remain disproportionately on welfare 5 years after their arrival here.

Who is going to pay for it all?