People affected by poverty and those who work to support them will come together with representatives of government, business and the wider community as the ACOSS National Conference kicks off in Sydney today.
The Conference gets underway as a new Ipsos report commissioned by ACOSS is released.* ‘Community Perspectives on Social Inequality (2005-2015)’ points to the overwhelming community perception of inequality as a growing problem in Australia.
“Today’s Ipsos report reveals a genuine concern from people about how others are faring. Older people are worrying about the ability of young people to get decent paid work. There is widespread recognition that younger people are struggling to secure their housing needs. And we see shared concern across generations about how each of us will fare, and who will look after us in our old age,” said ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie.
“Forty-four per cent of respondents who were currently working were worried about losing their jobs due to Australia’s economic conditions and 69% felt that Government benefits would not be enough to support them if they did. Moreover, 73% of respondents felt that the gap between rich and poor was getting wider and 58% felt that having large differences in income and wealth is bad for society.
“This is a wakeup call to our governments: community concern about inequality is significant.
“Our conference will hear directly from people experiencing poverty and draw on the research from ACOSS, Ipsos and others that points to the widespread concern about these problems and – equally importantly – what we can do as a nation to address them,” she said.
A new video to highlight key findings from the ACOSS ‘Inequality in Australia’ report will also be officially launched today.
US anti-poverty campaigner Linda Tirado and author of Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America will deliver the opening plenary at the Conference, reflecting on life for the ‘working poor’ in America, and common misconceptions about people living in poverty.
“We are delighted that Linda Tirado is addressing our conference, putting the lived experience of poverty front and centre of the conversation about work and welfare. Linda also sounds a salutary warning about the dangers of eroding our universal health and education services and the social safety net. As ACOSS’ ‘Inequality in Australia’ report highlighted, these institutions have protected Australia from more extreme inequality and must not be eroded,” said Dr Goldie.
The Conference will feature speakers from community, government and business and those who have experienced life below the poverty line.
Political representatives include:
- The Hon Scott Morrison MP, Minister for Social Services (representing the Prime Minister)
- Representative from the Federal Opposition
- Senator Richard di Natale, Leader of the Australian Greens
- The Hon Brad Hazzard, NSW Minister for Family and Community Services and Minister for Social Housing
Other speakers include:
- Les Malezer, Co-Chair, National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples
- Linda Tirado, US anti-poverty campaigner and author of ‘Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America’
- Fiona Collis, Director, Ipsos Mind and Mood Report
- Chris Dodds, Chair of Telstra’s Low Income Measures Assessment Committee
- Marcelle Mogg, CEO of Catholic Social Services Australia
- Dr Helen Hodgson, Curtin University
- Greg Smith, Commonwealth Grants Commission and Melbourne University
- Jane Caro, Social commentator
- Professor Deborah Brennan, UNSW
- Professor Barbara Pocock, University of South Australia
- Patricia Karvelas, ABC
- Catherine Yeomans, CEO, Mission Australia
- Craig Wallace, President of People with Disability Australia
- Anton Enus, SBS
- Maho Abdo, CEO United Muslim Women’s Association
- Hugh de Kretser, Human Rights Law Centre
- Paul Barclay, ABC
- John Buchanan, University of Sydney
- Phil Edmonds, Rio Tinto
- ACOSS: Fernando de Freitas, Media Advisor 0419 626 155
- Ipsos: Fiona Collis, Director, Mind and Mood Report 0439 803 299
Venue: Australian Technology Park (Eveleigh) in Sydney – 9:15am start today (directions here).
Full program here.
Ipsos report, Community Perspectives on Social Inequality (2005-2015):
* The Ipsos report was commissioned by ACOSS and supported by The Reichstein Foundation and The Australian Communities Foundation.
For the ACOSS ‘Inequality in Australia’ report and related resources, including the video here.