Welfare groups are demanding that authorities strengthen Australia's social safety net in order to prevent widening inequality from becoming the new norm.
A report to be released by the Australian Council of Social Service on Monday found that Australia's level of income inequality is above the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development average.
But the good news is that Australia is doing much better than the United States and the United Kingdom because of the minimum wage and tax systems.
"While inequality is not extreme in Australia by international comparison, we are trending in the wrong direction," ACOSS chief executive Cassandra Goldie said.
Australians in the top 20 per cent of income earners had a staggering 70 times as much wealth as those in the bottom 20 per cent, the report says.
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Income is unevenly distributed across Australian states and territories.
Tasmanians are more likely to be in the bottom 20 per cent while their Western Australian counterparts are more likely to be in the top 20 per cent of income earners as a result of the mining boom in recent years.
NSW, Victoria and Queensland had a more even representation of people across the income spectrum, while South Australians were more likely to be found at the bottom or the middle.
There is also a rural and urban rich-poor divide, with metropolitan residents better off compared with their country cousins.
Perth, Sydney and Brisbane had more residents in the top 20 per cent of income earners and less at the other end compared with other cities.
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KEY FINDINGS OF ACOSS INEQUALITY REPORT
- Inequality in Australia is higher than the OECD average
- Top 10 per cent of wealth holders own 45 per cent of all wealth
- Tasmanians more likely to be in bottom 20 per cent of income earners
- Western Australians are more likely to be in top 20 per cent
- City people better off compared with regional Australians
- NSW, Victoria and Queensland have even distribution across income spectrum
- Perth, Sydney and Brisbane residents more likely to be in top 20 per cent
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