Australian poverty, or what Ive seen of it.

My business entails visiting man of the people who would be nominally considered poor in Australia. usually Im selling a product (rental goods) to people who for a variety of reasons (some Ill go into) cannot access normal credit or cannot save money.

A disclaimer. Renting is a terrible way to get goods, over the term of a rental contract you will pay for the goods at least threefold. I heartily recommend people use lay buy or save for products and avoid rental like the plague. (as a defence, we do have to factor in a lot of bad debt)

However a new government initiative to protect rental customers from unscrupulous salesmen meant I actualy have to basically budget for people before I sell them items. This has led me to 3 conclusions.


Real poverty?

Real poverty?

First of all my broad sweeping generalisation. THERE IS NO POVERTY IN AUSTRALIA.

Poverty is not caused by lack of money in many situations, its caused by a number of the following.

1: Some people are poor because of mental health/disabilities, or are on aged benefits. I will also add those with parasite families, Ive had a few of them as well.

2: Many other people are poor because of terrible defects in their learning, they can be otherwise bright and talk well, but they learnt nothing in school.

3: And others are poor because they have made extremely bad decisions, usually involving drugs, friends, and past behaviour.

Fairly typical lower income housing unit.

Fairly typical lower income housing unit.

 More under the fold



How can I claim or support this, Ill show you.

First of all the Australian agency tasked with estimating average incomes has the following figure as average earnings. 923.40 , I myself make on average 2/3 of that amount (I only work half the year), and with a bit of rental income probably just tip that amount.

1: One particular family group (mum, dad, 2 working age kids) are all on some form of disability benefit. The Father has wrecked his health through illicit drugs, but is now sober, unfortunately the painkillers he is taking leave him at times nearly incoherent. The mother does part time work as a cleaner and is the most capable of the family, however she appears to have a fairly low IQ and not much education. The daughter has one child (in care) and is receiving a basic unemployment allowance, as well as making a bit of “off the books” money cleaning, she is extremely naive and also appears to have a low IQ. The son is receiving a disability pension due to his learning difficulties, he is fully functional but borderline retarded.

The whole family rents a house for about $200.00 per week.

Their respective incomes are (all approximate, nearly no-one knows for sure how much they are getting, it just comes in and is spent)

Mum $500.00pw

Dad: $360.00 pw

Daughter: $400.00 pw

Son: $180 pw

All these sums are what they have informed me they receive, so they are correct to the best of my knowledge.

So all up approximately $1400 per week enters the household, being in receipt of  pensions they also receive subsidised fees for their power/water as well.

Only $200.00 per week is consumed in rent, where does the rest go? I take approximately a further 250 pw out in rental goods, another rental company takes about another 250 as well. They feed 2 dogs and themselves, the father is a chain smoker and the rest just “goes”. Nearly every item they are renting could be brought outright with 2 weeks combined rental payments if they were able to save the money.As is they are running out of the remaining $500 per week nearly EVERY WEEK, the house is a pigsty (mums to knackered to clean) and they live an extremely limited and apparently impoverished lifestyle.

Thats the terrible thing about most of my customers/Australia’s poor, they are incapable of working out a short term deprivation will equal a much greater sum of money available in a relatively short period of time.

I dont condemn these people for their situation, a combination of factors has led to their plight. However I will argue they are not “in poverty” because of a lack of money, they are that way because of one main reason. Lack of education. The mother for example quizzed me on WW2 because she thought her grandfather was in it, she asked me if I could find out anything about Tobruk or the Kokoda trail as she though he might have been there. Turns out the poor sod was in both the iconic battles (for Australians), but his own daughter wasnt educated enough to realise that.


Now for group 2

Again another family group, living in the same set of units but separate.

Mother Claims to be stolen generation, clean, tidy house, well presented, old prison tatts on forearms, her spouse a hard working Aboriginal man (meatworker), who isnt officially (as far as the social security are concerned) living with her. The daughter is a very pretty girl (21) about to give birth to her 3rd child, only one of her previous children is with her the other is off living with its father in another town, the son is working on and off as a Shearer, pulling in good money while hes working, but with gaps between jobs, he also has a pregnant girlfriend.


Mum: Approx $300 pw disability pension

Dad: Approx $800 pw meatworker

Daughter: $510 pw single parents pension

Son: When working $500+ pw, when not only about $180. (jobsearch allowance)


So there is some serious money floating around again, however all have the same major problem. They are intelligent, articulate (bar dad) but woefully educated.

The daughter in particular upset me a little, she was curious, bright, kept her kid and house well, but had to get mum to fill in her application as her reading was so poor. It was upsetting to see the wasted potential of this girl, she grasped what instructions I told her about various items and was eager to know more, but because of a failed  education (how do you go to school for 10 years without reading and writing) her world was so terribly limited. Her information will come to her purely from what she hears or sees, she wont ever be capable of changing her life unless she receives a different worldview from that she inhabits. It is unlikely this will ever happen.

The son was a bit rough, a bad credit rating (skipped on a loan), minor brushes with the law, likes his weed and beers. Now the man can work, being a Shearer means he has to. However every cent that enters the household is immediately spent, if work stops is back to $180 pw and on the bones of his arse again. He had to get his girlfriend to fill in his form as well, this poor bloke is also trapped by poor education, and not helped by his boom and bust lifestyle. (I used to shear myself, its a bugger of a job)

Dad wasnt a particularly chatty bloke, again a hard worker, from what I saw coming home exhausted each day and happy to have a few beers, a bit of TV and off to bed. He also had a bad debt ($6000) chasing him and was unable to write his own form.

Mum: Genuinely nice lady, did most of the paperwork for everyone and showed a considerable amount of pride in herself and her household. The only one educated enough to look outside her own small world in my opinion.

All bar the mum were effectively crippled by not being able to read or write properly, and all of them are effectively stuck as if in amber, in the life they currently lead because of it. That to me is true poverty.


Now for group 3:

My biggest mistake so far was a lady I put on who claimed she had beaten her drug addiction, with 7  kids and one of her sisters kids fostered to her. In addition she had a “user” man around, who as far as I can tell drops in and out whenever she has money, or he wants a root.

This lady was on my books before the new checks were introduced, so I dont have an exact figure she was receiving as a pension. However a rough calculation puts her receiving somewhere around $2000 pw.

I made the decision to rent items to her based on 2 things, her claim to be clean of drugs, and the fact the child services considered he a fit enough parent to foster her sisters child to her, my mistake.

The house was a mess, she was in the middle of spending money she had inherited (why did she decide to rent??) and it was quite chaotic with the kids (the eldest couple of daughters assisted though).

The rental goods were mostly furniture such as beds, fridge etc, so quite essential.

However shortly after she began renting her blowfly of a boyfriend hooked back up with her, spent most of her inheritance money and re-introduced her to drugs.  I genuinely dont want to remove the goods from this ladies house, as it will be terrible for the kids living there. Ive had to return to the house numerous times to remind her of payments, and can tell the oldest girls think Im being in some way unfair to their mum because it upsets her. I dont think the girls realise that their mums choice to allow the blowfly to use her, then continue her drug addiction is what is causing the lifestyle they are living, not $400 per fortnight in essential items.



Each household mentioned above receives close to, or above the average weekly earnings, yet without exception possess little items of any value. They have a complete inability to save money, even on the short term, and in a couple of the cases above live in squalid conditions. In addition there appears to be a worsening of educational outcomes with each successive generation, with older people generally able to read and write well enough and the younger generations increasingly unable.

There is nearly no excuse for people to be attending an institution of learning for at least 10 years of their life and leaving unable to read, write, budget, and most of all, learning how to spend money wisely.



There is a whole plethora of government employees trying to protect the irresponsible from the consequences of their actions. For example, a customer has stolen some goods and moved interstate, yet the police advise it is a “civil matter” not a crime.

Another customer decides to move interstate and claims to another consumer protection body she was tricked into the contract. Despite proving to the busybody investigating that EVERY one of her claims was a lie they asked she be released  from the contract as she no longer wanted it.

Consumers do need protection, but it has gone beyond that to effectively nullifying contracts based on the whim of the buyer. This encourages feckless behaviour and increases the cost of doing business for the rest of my customers. I would be quite happy to HALVE my rates if I was assured of receiving every payment on time, with no defaults. As it stands those who are doing the right thing are effectively subsidising those who are behaving badly.

In addition, much is made of overcrowded housing in Australia, yet what is never mentioned is the sometimes substantial anounts of money flowing into the same households.  Teach people how to use money, dont give them more.



You may have made some bad decisions in your past. No one will force you to continue to make bad decisions.

No one forces you to smoke

No one forces you to watch TV rather than learn things.

You are the master of your own fate, you may be limited by some outside factors, but by buggery theres nothing to stop you being the best at what you do.

You are never to old to learn new crap. It may be more difficult and take longer, but if you want to do it you will.

Have a look at your friends, judge them, are they your friends or are they parasites?



A terrible disease, nearly every family group I deal with on it consider themselves poor. They are told that time and time again. They should be told how wealthy they are, after all the families Ive outlined above are receiving/earning close to the average wage, yet have little to show for it.

So poverty is (not in every case) as much a product of mindset rather than a function of dollars and cents.


Well that finishes this little rant, enjoy your day, if you disagree or have something to add then let me know in the comments.

21 Responses to “Australian poverty, or what Ive seen of it.”

  1. Margo's Maid Says:

    An excellent piece, frollicker.

  2. boy on a bike Says:

    Spot on. Absolutely spot on.

    Every teacher in the country should have this nailed to their forehead.

  3. Skeeter Says:

    Good one, Mole.
    As working class children and young adults (1930s to 1950s), we would have considered ourselves on clover with one household member earning the average income. But we never considered ourselves as poor. We had no real problems because we had the advantage of sound basic educations, that gave us literacy, numeracy and work ethics.
    By the time our two kids were in high school (1970s) we were very worried about the deteriorating standards of basic education in Australia.
    With each generation since then, the decline has been ever steeper. This is because the badly-educated parents (and teachers) have been ever less capable of fixing the shortfalls for the next generation.

  4. Tess Says:

    Some of the best blogging I’ve read in a long time. Good work.

  5. chris Says:

    You sound just like a heroin dealer trying to justify himself by denigrating your victims. I would love to smash your fucking kneecaps cunt

    • bingbing Says:

      How do you compare renting out appliances to selling heroin?

      And what’s so wrong with the basic argument put forth here that education as opposed to money will do more to alleviate poverty?

      You seem quite unhinged.

    • Carpe Jugulum Says:

      Chris, Best you get some help….i fear you may self harm.

    • boy on a bike Says:

      Denigrating? Since when is describing the facts somehow “denigrating”? What would you prefer? That we sweep the whole matter under the carpet and ignore it and allow another generation of kids to become hopelessly entrenched in this situation?

      At least you have enough of an education to write a coherent sentence, even if you left out two bits of punctuation. And you could read the article as well. How well off do you think you’d be if you were unable to even read the heading of this article?

    • The Wizard of WOZ Says:

      Sunshine, I’d like to see you try. The look on your face with Mole’s foot stuck up your arse would be priceless.

  6. Pedro the Ignorant Says:

    Illuminating and thought provoking article, ‘mole.

    You are quite correct of course in that education on how to budget a household, save money, and feed a family from somewhere better than KFC and Macca’s is the answer.

  7. ileum Says:

    The most alarming thing I found in this post is that a house can be rented for $200 but you and another rental company charge $500. For what?

    As for your broad sweeping generalisation, I guess homeless people don’t need to rent what ever it is you have on offer.

    • thefrollickingmole Says:

      Multiple thousands of dollars of goods.

      To give you an example of the risk being taken, one large Eastern States competitor has a fallover rate of nearly 25% on its contracts. That means they “lose” 25% of the goods they put out with no return.
      As I stated above Id gladly halve my rates if it carried no risk, and I knew the money would be paid. It wont happen.

  8. ileum Says:

    At $500 a week it wouldn’t take long to hit multiple thousands but I guess that is part of the problem. It just seems wrong to rent a house for $200 then pay more than double to rent some stuff to put inside it.

    • thefrollickingmole Says:

      As I stated above, renting is a terrible way to get gear, wether it be cars, houses or other goods.

      However if you have a terrible credit rating, unwilling to use lay buy, or want the item “right now”, or cant save it can be the only way.

      One of the main points of the article was to say exactly what you have said in fewer words. At $500 a week it would take little time to furnish a house and aquire many items. The family isnt cash poor, they just have never been taught to save.

    • nilk Says:

      I used the rent/buy option years ago for a small fridge. Bigger than a bar fridge, and yeah, it definitely cost me more than if I’d saved up for it, but at the time, I had just moved out from someone, was starting near from scratch and needed on now.

      I still have that fridge, and it’s currently on loan to a friend.

      One thing to consider in these situations, with the items involved, the rental company is often under obligation to maintain them, or upgrade them if the contract requires it.

      I knew I was paying more, but it suited my immediate circumstances.

    • bingbing Says:

      Yep. I’ll probably start paying rent for a water cooler soon. Saves having to buy bottles of water all the time (you can’t drink the tap water), but renting also saves me having to pay a heap up front. Sure I’ll pay a bit more in the long run, but it’s convenience I’m also paying for. Plus it’s one big item I won’t have to move when I move apartments, which as per the nature of teaching ESL in Korea, occurs frequently.

      The point is, Mole isn’t the bad guy here as some commenters have suggested.

      People rent apartments. People rent cars.

      Still, my obligation is to look after that water cooler, and pay my monthly fee on time, just as we all have to pay our bills on time.

      It’s stuff like this that keeps civilized society functioning, and one doubts those people would have any idea what I’m talking about at the moment.

      The people mentioned in the post have been most irresponsible and largely have themselves, as opposed to society, to blame.

      However, if those people have somehow managed to get through at least ten years of free education and yet still can’t read or write, I have little sympathy for them and perhaps, as a condition of receiving their welfare payments, they should have to take mandatory reading, writing and basic arithmetic classes… and drug testing.

  9. nilk Says:

    Regarding poverty in Oz, you’re right, mole. With the amount of money coming in, there is no excuse for a lot of people crying poor to do so.

    It drives me nuts when you see the single mums on ACA or Today Tonight bleating about how they need more money, yet can afford big tvs and nice houses.

    There are so many ways to game the system if you want to, it’s sickening and frustrating.

    3 years ago I was clearing $840 a fortnight tax free on the benefits. I could live on that, and even now, on a nice wage, I still get a couple of hundred dollars tax free from Centrelink.

    If you live within your means, there is no excuse why you can’t live decently.

    Regarding the functional illiterates, years ago I taught adult literacy, and one of the problems with the education system is that neither the schools nor the education dept want to admit to failure. It wouldn’t look good. This is over 20 years ago, so I don’t see that it would have improved any since then.

    Also, a lot of illiterate people have developed means of disguising their inability with the written word – they can ask directions and have developed their memories to deal with those sorts of things, if they need information, then oh, no, I’ve not got a pen or paper, can you write it down for me? That sort of thing.

    Little strategies that literate people wouldn’t even notice, because we’ve all forgotten pen and paper before.

    In any case, there will always be a small percentage of the population who are just incapable of learning to read due to the way their mind is wired, but that is a tiny minority, and it is appalling that so many are sent up through the school grades even though they can’t read.

    I hate illiteracy with a passion, but failing kids hurts their feelings, and the school’s standing, and that’s more important these days than equipping them with an essential life skill.

    • bingbing Says:

      I hate illiteracy with a passion, but failing kids hurts their feelings, and the school’s standing, and that’s more important these days than equipping them with an essential life skill.

      Yeah. MUm, who’s almost retired, just works part-time, said exactly the same thing. Whereas before if a kid wrote a shit essay, you’d come down on them like a ton of bricks, then fail them, now it’s all, “Oh, this (miniscule) bit here was good, this (microscopic) bit here was good, this (sub-atomic particle-sized) bit here was good… well done, Johnny!”

      It’s bollocks and it’s been happening for years. I blame the teachers’ unions for pushing this crap. They have failed a generation or more.

      Still, that said, what about parental responsibility? What happened to personal responsibility?

      This is a prime example of what can happen when the State garners too much control… and when people gladly relinquish it.

      As an anecdote, Mum taught at a certain high school way back in the 70s. There were a few feral kids back then. She ended up back there just before she effectively retired. And the kids were even more feral. Basically, they were the kids of those kids from back in the 70s. Yes, the problem is compounding, thanks largely to a loss of personal responsibility and decades of entrenched Left wing fads.

      This is one prime example of why I utterly despise the Left. Polanski’s case is another prime example.

      (I can feel one coming on…)



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  12. dfsjhg Says:

    The hassle is not teachers, they usually are fully aware that Shania cant read, but someone in the Education Department has decided that students should ALL achieve Year 12, in itself a nice idea, but the only way that will happen is to issue Year 12 certificates that are really statements of (occasional) attendence.
    Teachers need to be able to give concrete feedback, fail students, and remove students who are disruptive. Time-out is a reward for students, not a disincentive.

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