Fro the late 1970s onward (when the dole was made equal with the Henderson poverty line by the Whitlam Government), the dole has been sinking further and further below the poverty line. Today it is the worst it has ever been.
Below is a comparison of the current maximum rate of the dole (including rent assistance) with the current Henderson Poverty Line has calculated each quarter by the Melbourne Institute.
December 2017 Quarter
Henderson Poverty Line: 1036.32 per fortnight
Maximum Newstart Rate (including Rent Assistance): 680.6
$355.72 below the poverty line per fortnight
March 2016 Quarter
Henderson Poverty Line: $1049.78 per fortnight
Maximum Newstart Rate (including rent assistance): $658
$391.78 below the poverty line per fortnight