As Poverty Week draws to a close, ACOSS has issued a sobering reminder that one in ten people are continuing to struggle with the daily realities of poverty.
ACOSS released a report this week showing that despite the current economic conditions, poverty remains a real and widespread problem.
“Tomorrow morning, more than two million Australians will still be living in poverty,” said ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie.
“ACOSS and our member organisations will continue our campaigns to ensure everyone has access to the most basic necessities of life.”
The ACOSS report found the relatively low levels of pensions and benefits was one of the major causes of poverty.
Australia spends only 3.2% of GDP on income support, which is less than half the OECD average of 6.5%. Yet for 73% of households with the lowest incomes, these government pensions and allowances are their main source of income.
“No wonder you’re likely to be living in poverty if you rely on the sole parent pension, a disability support pension or the Newstart Allowance,” Dr Goldie said.
“The Newstart Allowance for a single adult is just $235 per week, around $130 per week less than the pension. Neither this payment nor the payment for sole parents was included in last year’s very welcome $32 a week increase in pensions for single people.”
A range of social service providers launched reports during Poverty Week that illustrated the many different facets of poverty. An Anglicare report looked at the causes of social exclusion, while a Salvation Army report found 9.5 million Australians believed taking action against poverty should be a “very high priority”.
Children missing out on education through homelessness was the subject of a report by the Brotherhood of St Laurence with the Hanover Welfare Services and the Foundation for Young Australians.
Catholic Services Australia called on the Federal Government to create a comprehensive anti-poverty strategy. Mission Australia had separate activities in each state, while the Councils of Social Service were particularly active in their respective states and territories.
ACOSS, the ACTU, the Australian Council for International Development and Reconciliation Australia called on the new Parliament to outline its priorities for combating poverty and disadvantage.
This was separate to the ACOSS report on the causes of poverty, including structural factors such as the failure to give long-term unemployed the level of assistance they need to gain employment.
Media Contact: Evan Mistilis, ACOSS – 0419 626 155
The Salvation Army “Perceptions of Poverty” report with research from Roy Morgan:
Media release: www.salvationarmy.org.au/media-centre/current-media-releases/perceptions-of-poverty-report.html?s=1968937853
Anglicare released their tenth State of the Family report “In From the Edge”, launched by Jenny Macklin with five essays that look at the factors leading to social exclusion:
Catholic Social Services issued a release calling for a comprehensive anti-poverty strategy at the national level: http://catholicsocialservices.org.au/node/41120
ACOSS, the ACTU, ACFID and Reconciliation Australia issued a joint release on 19 October calling on the new federal government to outline their priorities for fighting poverty during Anti-Poverty Week:
St Vincent de Paul national council chief executive John Falzon, of the; UnitingCare Burnside research manager Sally Cowling wrote a column for Fairfax Newspapers arguing the government wastes money on paternalistic programs such as Income Management:
Brotherhood of St Laurence released a report on homeless children missing out on education, in conjunction with Hanover Welfare Services and the Foundation for Young Australians, emphasising that homeless children participate less in education, resulting in lower levels of final education than their peers
Media release: http://www.bsl.org.au/Media-centre/Media-Releases.aspx?id=333
Mission Australia issued separate releases were issued for NSW, Qld, Victoria and Tasmania.
The state and territory Councils of Social Service:
QCOSS launched its “Fair Qld” campaign, and also released their annual statement on poverty: Article: http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-national/queenslanders-hit-hard-by-cost-of-living-20101017-16oqj.html
Media release: http://www.qcoss.org.au/Article.aspx?type=mediareleases&id=7579
Fair Qld campaign: http://takeaction.qcoss.org.au/
TasCOSS joined with Anglicare in a briefing at Parliament House in Hobart, which revealed that 13% of Tasmanians live below the poverty line:
VCOSS, launched “A Fairer Victoria” 2010, an annual government program to help the state’s most vulnerable citizens. It estimates of those living in poverty in Victoria are around 500,000. A media release from VCOSS marked the flaws in the education system in Victoria, emphasising the link between education and income and relating educational disadvantage to poverty.
NCOSS (the NSW Council of Social Service) held a forum reflecting on what was necessary to ensure fairness from a political level to a community level. The forum also marked the re-launch of their election platform “Vote 1 Fairness in NSW”, asking whether NSW is yet fair.
SACOSS (the South Australian Council of Social Service) held an event “My Five Solutions to End Poverty in SA”, with a panel of seven speakers talking about their suggestions about ending poverty. It also released results of a statewide survey revealing that much of the community was unaware of exactly how high costs of living in SA.
Media release: : http://www.sacoss.org.au/media/2010/101021-antipoverty-statement.pdf
Anti-poverty statement: www.sacoss.org.au/online_docs/APStatement2010.pdf
WACOSS (the Western Australian Council of Social Service) organised an exhibition soccer match between Community Sector workers and volunteers, and players from the Big Issue Street Soccer program marked poverty week with events. It also issued a statement emphasising their interest in and support for Anti-Poverty Week at: wacoss.org.au/images/assets/Media%20April%2008%20onwards/2010_10_15_WACOSS_MR_APW.pdf