SEATTLE, Washington — Australia, the world’s only country to encompass an entire continent, is one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Australian residents have access to high-quality healthcare and above average incomes. The country is also home to unique living environments influenced by coral reefs, large deserts and coastal forests. Here are the top 10 facts about living conditions in Australia.
Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Australia
- Healthcare – Australia has one of the best healthcare systems in the world, contributing to its high average life expectancy of 83 years. Australia government administers its universal healthcare through tax revenues that fund it. Private healthcare options are also available for supplementation. As Australia has a mixed healthcare system made up of both public and private options, 100 percent of its residents have access to healthcare.
- Wealth – Australia has the second highest median wealth in the world. The average wealth per adult is approximately $411,060. Reports state that the number of millionaires will increase by 41 percent over the next five years to 1.8 million people. Less than 6 percent of the population has an average net worth below $10,000.
- Income Inequality – The high costs of living in Australia causes a problem for some residents. Due to high living costs, approximately 13.2 percent of Australians were living in poverty and unable to afford basic amenities such as food, water and shelter in 2018. Income inequality is expanding, with the bottom 10 percent becoming even poorer while the top 10 percent are becoming richer. While poverty rates have been decreasing over the past 20 years, many residents are still struggling to afford basic necessities such as food, water and housing.
- Nongovernmental Organizations (NGOs) – There are hundreds of NGOs in Australia dedicated to addressing problems such as poverty, foreign aid, refugees, education and reproductive issues. Some of the largest NGOs in Australia are the Australian Red Cross, Action on Poverty and Habitat for Humanity. With hundreds of NGOs across Australia dedicated to many issues, residents can easily become involved and support causes that affect all Australians.
- Employment – Employment rates in Australia are comparable to other industrialized countries. Seventy-two percent of people between the ages of 15 and 64 have a paid job, which is higher than the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) average employment rate of 67 percent. The unemployment rate is low at five percent, with 66 percent of the total available labor force participating in the job market as of May 2019.
- Education – Australia has 43 universities, and 81 percent of adults between ages 25 and 66 have attained some form of post-secondary education. However, the country has been falling behind. A 2016 U.N. report ranked Australia 39 out of 41 in terms of educational achievement in high and middle-income countries. The report also found that baseline educational standards were only being met by 71.7 percent of Australian 15-year-olds. Part to the problem lies in the student-teacher ratio, which hit an all-time low in 2016 with one teacher for approximately 13-14 students.
- Population – Considering the size of Australia, 7.62 million square kilometers, the country has a relatively modest population of around 25 million residents. Most of Australia’s land area is made up of deserts (known as the Outback), which makes the middle areas of the country largely uninhabitable. Since the Outback makes up a lot of Australia, residential areas do not have much space. In fact, only 60,000 people reside in the Outback. As a result, approximately 90.1 percent of the total population lives in urban areas such as Sydney, Perth, Melbourne and Tunisia.
- Clean Water – Australia is fortunate to have access to some of the world’s cleanest water. According to the World Bank’s Development Indicators, Australia has 100 percent access to clean water and proper sanitation. However, some rural communities in Western Australia, such as Buttah Windeein, have not been so fortunate. A lack of infrastructure, funding and climate conditions have created unsafe levels of uranium in water sources. On top of that, government officials are worried about future water supplies in Western Australia’s largest city, Perth, because of its large population and increasingly drier climate. The country is designing water conservation systems in the hope that Perth’s water supply will remain stable.
- Natural Disasters – Australia has a unique climate because of its vast Outback and coastal areas. Unfortunately, changes in the climate over time have bred severe weather events such as hail storms, wildfires and tropical cyclones not to mention unexpected droughts. In February 2009, the Black Saturday bushfires killed 173 people and displaced thousands more from their homes in Victoria. Population displacement leads to major disruptions in everyday life and can cause more people to become impoverished, leading to slowdowns in the economy.
- Overpopulation – Australia’s population is growing rapidly and may reach 40 million residents by 2050, nearly double the current population. Most of the population growth is occurring in major coastal cities. Unfortunately, the current infrastructure will not be able to support such a large population. By investing in infrastructure, it will be easier for people to access basic necessities. However, estimates put the costs for necessary infrastructure at 1.5 trillion, so Australia’s government will need to develop strategies to pay for the investment. The implementation of family planning programs could help prevent overpopulation and provide education to new families regarding child care.
While Australia is one of the world’s wealthiest countries when considering access to healthcare, these top 10 facts about living conditions in Australia show that income rates and expensive living standards in major cities are creating a divide. Many residents still struggle to afford basic necessities such as food and water, making poverty is an issue, especially in rural parts of the country.
– Kyle Arendas