Sunday, October 16, 2016

Australia's Poverty Shame

In Australia the number of children living in poverty has increased since 2003 and nearly 3 million people now live below the poverty line.

Australia has failed to reduce its level of overall poverty in the community since 2003-04, with 13.3% of the population still living below the poverty line, a new report shows.

There has been a 2% increase in the number of children living in poverty over that period, now 17.4% (731,300 children), according to the Poverty in Australia report published by the Australian Council of Social Service. The poverty rate for children in lone-parent families, which increased from 36.8% in 2012 to 40.6% in 2014.

The poverty line for a single adult was $426.30 week (or $343 after taking into account housing costs). For a couple with children the poverty line (calculated as 50% of median income) was $895.22 a week (or $720.22 after housing).

Using the after-housing poverty line, it shows the headline poverty rate in 2014 was 13.3%, or 2.99 million people. It was 11.8% in 2003-04.

Cassandra Goldie, Acoss’s chief executive, criticised Australia’s political leaders for letting the problem fester, calling it a “national shame”. She said Newstart and Youth Allowance were now $110 and $158 a week below the poverty line respectively. She said an increase to these payments, of at least $50 a week, would go some way to alleviating poverty and improve people’s chances of finding paid work.

“Unfortunately, our political leaders often seem more concerned with providing the next tax cut than with reducing poverty and inequality,” Goldie said. “Successive budgets have cut income support payments to those with the least, including low-income families despite persistent and increasing child poverty in Australia.” She explained, “Our report shows those doing it the toughest are overwhelmingly people living on the $38-a-day Newstart payment, 55% of whom are in poverty. This is followed by families on Parenting Payment (51.5%), the majority of whom are lone parents with children,”

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