The gap between Australia's richest and poorest has widened further, even before considering the impact of coronavirus, new research has found.
A joint report from the Australian Council of Social Service and the University of New South Wales predicted COVID-19 would further exacerbate inequality, with most job losses hitting lower-paid industries.
The Inequality in Australia report found the wealthiest 20 per cent of Australians had an income six times that of the lowest 20 per cent of earners during 2017-18.
In the past 15 years, the wealthiest 20 per cent received an average growth in their wages of 68 per cent, compared to those in the lowest 20 per cent, whose income grew by 6 per cent.
"Unless economic recovery strategies focus on job replacements in [lower-paid industries] and provide an adequate floor through social security, income inequality is likely to become more severe," the report stated.
It comes as Australia officially entered its first recession in 30 years on Wednesday.
The nation's unemployment rate was at 7.4 per cent in June and was tipped to worsen to 10 per cent by the end of the year.
While federal government initiatives such as JobKeeper and JobSeeker have supported many amid COVID-19, the rate of those payments are set to decrease by the end of the month.
Australian Council of Social Service CEO Cassandra Goldie said a permanent JobSeeker increase would ensure those without jobs could meet the cost of living.
"There is a real danger in now expecting people to spend down on their already meagre savings in order to survive," Ms Goldie said.
"We need to support people's incomes to prevent against dramatically widening both income and wealth inequality and the serious health, economic and social disadvantage that occurs."
Toby O'Connor, chief executive of the St Vincent de Paul Society National Council, said the report confirmed what charity organisations dealing with disadvantage had long suspected.
"Disadvantage and inequality has been increasing over the last 20 years, and there are more disadvantaged people relying on charities just to get by," Mr O'Connor said
"Rents have gone up and wages are stagnate. The number of folk who can afford to live in secure and safe accommodation is under pressure because there is just not enough public housing."