Many Australians are missing out on essentials in life, yet they do not register on statistics measuring poverty, according to research from UNSW.
Dental treatment, school excursions and hobbies for children are amongst the areas that many people are missing out on, according to the research from the Social Policy Research Centre (SPRC) at UNSW and four leading community sector agencies.
"This is the first time in Australia that there has been an approach which has moved away from looking at poverty just as a lack of income," said one of the authors, Professor Peter Saunders from the SPRC.
"Our approach is to ask about standard of living. This tells us a story about whether people are deprived or excluded," he said. "People with disabilities might not have problems related to income, but they still might be excluded in many different ways.
"We need to look at other kinds of resources, such as community networks, family, and services provided by government."
The research focused on two groups: those who approached welfare agencies to seek help and a survey of 2,700 people which was representative of the Australian population.
Deprivation was classified as those who do not have 26 of a list of 61 'essentials of life' that are regarded as essential by a majority of those who participated in the larger survey.
Of the people approaching welfare, more than two-thirds experience two or more forms of deprivation, while around one in five of the representative sample are deprived of a week's holiday away from home each year and $500 in savings for use in an emergency.
Almost half of the welfare clients and one in seven of the broader sample are deprived of dental treatment when they need it.
"We want the government to listen to this report and think about where they need to take action," said Professor Saunders.
The research was carried out by the SPRC and the Australian Council of Social Service, Mission Australia, the Brotherhood of St Laurence and Anglicare, Sydney.