Friday, June 10, 2016

Child Poverty in Australia

In 1987, Prime Minister Bob Hawke famously proclaimed "by 1990, no Australian child will be living in poverty". Nearly 30 years on, the promise is a distant memory, with a new report claiming one in six Australian kids -- more than 600,000 children -- currently live below the poverty line in Australia. The report takes Organisation of Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD) definition of poverty, which is "households earning less than 50 per cent of median household income." 

The statistics are stark and shocking:
1. 603,000 children in Australia living below the poverty line or 1 in 6 Australian children, nearly 18 per cent
2. 9.3 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are living in poverty, compared to 12.4 per cent of non- indigenous children
3. School retention rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students remain considerably lower than non-indigenous school students.
4. In 1990 there were three per 1,000 children in out of home care. In 2014 this had grown to 8.1 per 1,000 children.
5. Of young people who have been homeless, 80 percent have a mental disability and 61 percent have a physical disability

The statistics focusing on indigenous children are particularly eye-opening:

1. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people account for 25 per cent of the homeless population, but just 2.5 per cent of the general population
2. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people make up three per cent of the Australian population, but 23 per cent of those accessing specialist homelessness services in 2014–15
3. The representation of Indigenous people aged 10 – 17 years in detention increased from 19 times the rate of non-Indigenous young people in 2011 to 26 times in 2015.
4. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are 9.2 times more likely to be in out of home care than non-Indigenous children.
5. Aboriginal Children make up 5.5 per cent of all Australian children, yet comprise 35 per cent of the care population.
6. 69.9 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are in pre-school, compared with 88.7 per cent of non-Indigenous children.

Adrian Graham, CEO of UNICEF Australia, said that the report "is not comfortable reading for Australians…Children living in poverty have less access to both primary and specialist health services than the general population, higher levels of contact with the criminal justice system and greater exposure to domestic violence. Children living in poverty are also more likely to be removed from their families and placed into care arrangements."

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