They often find themselves stranded, unable to work, and unable to afford to travel to where the jobs actually are.
Queensland's Russell Island, among the southern Moreton Bay islands, is home to over 4,000 residents.
The jobless rate tops seventeen per cent, a whopping three and a half times the national average.More stories from Today Tonight
33-year-old Will took his grandmother's advice to come to the island, and now he's stuck.
“I moved to Russell Island because my grandmother told me that it was cheap rent over her,” he said.
“I want to work, but trying to get over to the mainland all the time - it's just gonna cost me a fortune.”
And he's not alone. The jobless argue that without ferry concessions across to the mainland, where unemployment's a low four per cent, they have no hope.
Liz Matheson has lived on the island for more than a decade, and the unemployed haven’t stopped migrating.
“That's a big mistake that a lot of people make. They just come over, move over lock stock and barrel, they don't sort of come over, test the waters so to speak, and they just crash and burn.”
Matthew Tincknell is a local real estate agent.
“About 60 per cent of the people on my rent roll would receive their income from Centrelink,” Tincknell said.
“It's a bit of a Catch 22. You come in here for the cheap rent and the cheap lifestyle, but then you've got no other means of supporting yourself, other than potentially whatever sort of benefit you might be able to get from the Government,” he said.
And while the average rent's attractive at only $220 per week, many rely on unemployment benefits to pay the bills.
Deborah Patterson's the manager of the island's largest employer with over 40 staff at the IGA supermarket,
“We have hundreds of application forms, but we cannot employ any more staff at this present time, and most of these people would be on Centrelink,” she said.
But these islanders are far from castaways.
Around the country there are dozens of dole havens according to demographer Professor Graeme Hugo.
“Poorer populations tend to concentrate in low cost housing areas,” Professor Hugo said.
In tropical north Queensland Mareeba has more than double the country's unemployment rate at nearly twelve per cent.
In idyllic Hervey Bay almost one in ten are seeking work.
In New South Wales Nambucca Shire, on the mid north coast, might be an ideal getaway, but eight and a half per cent are welfare-dependent.
And on the southern border, the city of Albury boasts just over eight per cent who are jobseekers, and that includes a rise of half a per cent in the past year.
Victoria has fared better overall than its northern counterparts, but Brimbank on the outskirts of Melbourne topped the list - the figure has climbed to eight and a half per cent.
In greater Dandenong unemployment is falling, but it still has one of the highest unemployment rates in the state, with just over eight per cent looking for work.This reporter is on Twitter at @AdamMarshallTT
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