This piece on the 'typical' Australian wage is very helpful in understanding some common misconceptions, and helped me to break down some of the areas I've been confused. I was particularly enlightened by the part about "equivalised household disposable income". I think looking at the amount necessary for a person to live (this should be similar to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), shouldn't it?) is a good way to go about it.
We need a way to compare the living standards of people across different household types, to get a measure of how much income a person would need to maintain the living standard of the typical (median) Australian. This is known as equivalised household disposable income. [...] A single person, living alone, would need around $36 000 in disposable income to sustain the typical Australian’s standard of living.
Well, that's a little more than I expected, but that's probably because it's across a range of types of work, cities, and lifestyles. The final point that the families in the newspaper stories earn much more than the average needed to live in Australia, seems to mix two ideas. $36 000 might be the average needed to live, but the median income (based on ATO stats) is just under $45 000. This doesn't change the fact that income per year of $100 000 and above is certainly not typical.