Activity Introduction

woman and childQuick summary: What are the chances of a person in Australia experiencing poverty? It might be higher than you think, with a range of factors potentially contributing to their income being less than half of the Australian median income.

This lesson will introduce students to the data of people living below the poverty line in Australia. Students will consider a range of factors that increase people’s and family’s likelihood of living below the poverty line and why these factors may contribute to poverty. Students will then perform some simple calculations to determine a person’s or family’s likelihood of experiencing living below the poverty line during their lifetime. Students will reflect on the results, and how these statistics shape or change their perception of poverty and people living below the poverty line in Australia.

Learning intentions:

  • Students will develop an understanding of some of the barriers and issues faced by Australians in various groups in addressing and overcoming poverty.

21st-century skills: 

 Creative Thinking Critical ThinkingCommunicatingDigital LiteracyEmpathyEthical UnderstandingProblem FindingProblem Solving        

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions: 

Years 7 Mathematics:

  • Compare fractions using equivalence. Locate and represent positive and negative fractions and mixed numbers on a number line (ACMNA152)
  • Express one quantity as a fraction of another, with and without the use of digital technologies (ACMNA155)
    Round decimals to a specified number of decimal places (ACMNA156)
  • Connect fractions, decimals and percentages and carry out simple conversions (ACMNA157)
  • Find percentages of quantities and express one quantity as a percentage of another, with and without digital technologies (ACMNA158)
  • Assign probabilities to the outcomes of events and determine probabilities for events (ACMSP168)
  • Construct and compare a range of data displays including stem-and-leaf plots and dot plots (ACMSP170)
  • Describe and interpret data displays using median, mean and range (ACMSP172)

Years 8 Mathematics:

  • Solve problems involving the use of percentages, including percentage increases and decreases, with and without digital technologies (ACMNA187)
  • Explore the variation of means and proportions of random samples drawn from the same population (ACMSP293)
  • Investigate the effect of individual data values, including outliers, on the mean and median (ACMSP207)

Syllabus outcomes: MA3-2WM, MA3-7NA, MA3-18SP, MA3-19SP 

General capabilities: Numeracy, Critical and Creative Thinking, Ethical Understanding

Relevant parts of Year 7 achievement standards: 

Students solve problems involving percentages and all four operations with fractions and decimals. Students use fractions, decimals and percentages, and their equivalences. They express one quantity as a fraction or percentage of another. Students determine the sample space for simple experiments with equally likely outcomes and assign probabilities to those outcomes.

Relevant parts of Year 8 achievement standards: 

Students solve everyday problems involving rates, ratios and percentages. They explain the effect of outliers on means and medians in that data. They simplify a variety of algebraic expressions.

Topic: Poverty and Inequality in Australia

Time required: 60 mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – teachers guide discussion and explain the meaning of probability and other maths concepts, then support students in their independent work.

Resources required:

  • A device capable of presenting a video to the class
  • Powerpoint presentation on poverty and inequality 
  • Student Worksheets – one copy per student.

Keywords: Poverty line, probability, percentage, likelihood

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


Teacher Worksheet

woman and childTeacher 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: What is the likelihood of a person experiencing poverty?

1. Working out 

Step 1. Perform the calculations and fill in the grids. Remember to round your answers to the closest whole number.

32% of households in Australia rent their home.

0.32 x 100 = ________

19% of households who rent their home live below the poverty line.

0.19 x ________ = ________

This means that out of 100 households,________rent their home. Colour these squares red in the grid below.

Out of these households who rent, ________ of them live below the poverty line. Put a blue border around this number of red squares in the grid below.


14% of families in Australia are single-parent households.

0.14 x 100 = ________

35% of these families live below the poverty line.

0.35 x ________ = ________

This means that out of 100 families, ________ are single-parent households. Colour these squares red in the grid below.

Out of these single-parent households, ________ of them live below the povert

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