Poorer people and those on welfare benefits have worse health outcomes than other Australians and the COVID-19 pandemic is only exacerbating inequality.
People under the age of 65 who rely mainly on government payments are more than twice as likely to report mental health issues than those who don't.
The Australian Council of Social Service and University of New South Wales have released data showing how poverty affects people's health.
Without urgent government action, UNSW health equality centre director Evelyne de Leeuw warns COVID-19 will only make problems worse.
"People on lower incomes (are) already being left behind in the vaccine roll out, even though many live in insecure, over-crowded housing or work in roles that cannot be carried out from home," she said on Thursday.
ACOSS wants stronger and more coherent health policies as well as an overhaul of data collection so researchers do not need to rely on fragmented figures.
"As the wealthiest country in the world, it is inexcusable that we have not tackled preventable health inequalities," ACOSS chief executive Cassandra Goldie said.
"Far too many people have poorer health outcomes by reason of preventable economic and social disadvantage."
Australian Associated Press
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