Activity Introduction

APW_Fotoframe_baby boy with grandfatherQuick summary: 

This lesson aims to help students understand the difference between the poverty line and the amount of government income support available for someone who is unemployed. While working through the tasks, students will begin to notice the difficulties that are experienced by many Australians and consider the expenses needed to live; calculate essential daily costs and apply them to a budget. 

Learning intentions:

  • Students will understand the amount of government income support available when someone is unemployed
  • Students will understand the cost of living in Australia and why it is difficult to afford the essentials such as housing, clothing, food, healthcare and transport when income is low
  • Students will become aware of some of the actual (estimated) costs of living by gathering general data from their families and/or friends
  • Students will learn some basic weekly budgeting skills based on realistic estimates of living costs
  • Students will empathise with others living on incomes below the poverty line by comparing what they would like to spend on goods and services and what others can afford to spend when they’re living in poverty.

21st-century skills: 

Critical ThinkingCommunity EngagementEthical UnderstandingEmpathyGlobal CitizenshipSocial SkillsProblem FindingProblem Solving           

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions: 

Year 5 Mathematics:

  • Use efficient mental and written strategies and apply appropriate digital technologies to solve problems (ACMNA291)
  • Create simple financial plans (ACMNA106)

Year 6 Mathematics:

  • Select and apply efficient mental and written strategies and appropriate digital technologies to solve problems involving all four operations with whole numbers (ACMNA123)

Syllabus outcomes: MA3-1WM, MA3-2WM, MA3-3WM, MA3-4NA, MA3-5NA.

General capabilities: Numeracy, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Capability, Personal and Social Capability, Ethical Understanding.

Relevant parts of Year 5 achievement standards: 

By the end of Year 5, students solve simple problems involving the four operations using a range of strategies. They explain plans for simple budgets.

Relevant parts of Year 6 achievement standards:

By the end of Year 6, students describe the use of integers in everyday contexts, solve problems involving all four operations with whole numbers and they add, subtract and multiply decimals and divide decimals where the result is rational.

Topic: Poverty and Inequality in Australia 

Time required: 60 mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – teachers will need to guide class conversations around the cost of living, present factual information regarding the poverty line in Australia, and assist students with accessing digital support materials (in Microsoft Excel) for the budgeting exercise.

Resources required:

  • Printed copies of the Fact sheet from Anti-Poverty Week: Fast Facts – Poverty in Australia
  • Printed copies of Jack Simulation Task (Student Worksheet) and answer sheet for the Jack Simulation Task (for the teacher)
  • Sticky notes
  • Pocket calculators, working out paper OR other digital devices (per student) for budgeting activities
  • Student Worksheets – one copy per student.

Keywords: households, expenditure, income, budget, spreadsheet, poverty line, needs, wants.

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.


Teacher Worksheet

APW_Fotoframe_baby with grandfatherTeacher Preparation

The content and information in these lessons may be overwhelming and cause some students to experience heightened emotions. Please ensure you allow students to ask questions and to discuss any issues or concerns. Before teaching the lesson, you may consider conducting a class check-in or circle time to establish a safe learning environment. Inform students that this might be a complex topic for them to comprehend. However, let your students know that differences in people’s incomes and wealth are nothing to be ashamed of and that these may be beyond the control of individuals and families – for example, some have more luck than others in landing a good job. Assure students that organisations and campaigns are working towards decreasing poverty in Australia, and if they would like more information, they can visit the Anti Poverty Week website ( and the Poverty and Inequality website (

Learning intentions

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Student Worksheet

Thought-starter: "Poverty and wealth inequality is a form of instability into the future" — Tavis Smiley 

1. Can Jack make ends meet?

Budget management

Jack is a 30-year-old man that lives with his housemate in the city. He lost his job in the travel industry during COVID-19 and now receives unemployment payments. His income is now $380 per week. This is $72 below the poverty line.

His rent is $230 per week. This is his biggest expense. He also spends $12 a day on food. This leaves Jack with $72 per week to pay for all of his other living expenses.

Jack has $500 in savings but with many upcoming expenses, he is eager to find more income. Let’s help Jack get through the next 2 weeks.


Event working out space bank balance
Day 1 - Monday
Jack received his unemployment payment today. His bank account rises by $380.
Day 2 - Tuesday
Jack decided to go grocery shopping for the next 7 days.
He usually spends $12 a day on food. How much does he spend on groceries?
Day 3
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