Contributed from Victoria
As major inequities in the vaccine roll out emerge, ACOSS and UNSW Sydney have today released a report showing the relationship between income and health.
Australian Council of Social Service CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said:
“The pandemic has exposed the stark inequities that impact our health across the country. People on the lowest incomes, and with insecure work and housing have been at greatest risk throughout the COVID crisis. Now, they are the same people who are at risk of missing out in the vaccine roll out.
“Our report shows that health inequities are built into our society. Our report shows that people on low incomes have the highest levels of psychological distress, and we know that the pandemic is increasing that distress.
“People on lower incomes are also at greater risk of chronic illnesses, which can also make them more at risk to the impacts of the pandemic.”
The evidence has always pointed in this direction, and the reality has been ignored for just as long. His, however, doesn’t change that doing better in fighting the pandemic means tackling where it hits the hardest, and this means facing the inequities in work, housing, and the health system.
Findings in the report show that people in the highest income group are twice as likely (60 percent) to report their health status as good, very good or excellent. Half of people on social security payments under 65 report mental health conditions (50 percent). This is over twice as many as those whose main source of income is wages or salary (18 percent). Social security recipients are also far more likely to report mental health issues.
Photo from The Australian
Social security recipients and those surviving on precarious work were already being denied their needs. The pandemic has made this worse. Economic and psychological have spiked, and this is being ignored in the government’s response.
Those at the top end of the income scale are far more likely to enjoy financial reserves and can access superior health services.
Ignoring the difference proves there is a class based approach to the pandemic.
Professor Evelyne de Leeuw, Director of Centre for Health Equity Training, Research and Evaluation, said:
“It’s clear that income and wealth help determine health outcomes in Australia.
“Without urgent government action, the pandemic is only set to widen this inequality, with people on lower incomes already being left behind in the vaccine rollout. Many live in insecure, over-crowded housing or work in roles that cannot be carried out from home. Health inequities are not a given; they are a consequence of how our societies work.”
Australian Council of Social Service CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie continued:
“Improving health for all is not only about investing in our health system – it’s also about income support, housing, and community services. We must deliver on the basic economic supports and social determinants of health such as adequate and secure incomes and housing, including in lockdowns, so that we can improve health for all and get through the COVID crisis.”